USA Network’s hacker drama starring Rami Malek and Christian Slater got off to a bumpy ratings start Wednesday, drawing a not-great 1.75 million viewers and 0.5 among the 18-49 demo at 10 PM. But the numbers for Mr. Robot were skewed by the fact that the pilot had been playing for free online since May 27.
The ratings also are sort of academic: USA gave the series a second-season pickup of at least 10 episodes on Wednesday, hours before its network premiere. The cable net made the renewal after 2.6 million people sampled the pilot on various online platforms in advance of its official TV launch. “We knew from the moment we read Sam Esmail’s provocative script and witnessed the brilliant performances of Rami Malek and Christian Slater that Mr. Robot is a standout series that is unlike anything currently on television,” USA Network President Chris McCumber said Wednesday in announcing the renewal.
USA ordered the series in December – a timely order in the wake of the unprecedented hack attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. It was USA’s first series pickup to a pilot from its slate. The hacker drama centers on a young programmer, Elliot (Malek), who suffers from a debilitating anti-social disorder and decides that he can only connect to people by hacking them. He finds himself in the intersection between a cybersecurity firm he works for and the underworld organizations that are recruiting him to bring down corporate America. Slater plays Mr. Robot, a mysterious anarchist who recruits Elliot.