In television and everywhere else, it’s a cliché extraordinaire to say what a difference a year can make. However, in the case of the Nic Pizzolatto-created anthology this season, it is also very true. On March 9, 2014, True Detective ended its first season coming off widespread acclaim, a pretty packed Big 4 schedule as competition and crashed the HBO GO for a while. On August 9 this year, the HBO show wrapped up its second season facing a much more critical reception, no such streaming disruptions and the highly watched NFL Preseason Hall of Fame kickoff game.
The 90-minute Season 2 finale of the Colin Farrell, Taylor Kitsch, Rachel McAdams and Vince Vaughn starring show was watched by 2.73 million on Sunday, according to Nielsen. While that’s the best the show has done since the second episode of this season, the 9 PM broadcast was down 22% from the 3.5 million who tuned in for the Season 1 ender last spring. That Matthew McConaughy and Woody Harrelson-starring first season ended up becoming the most watched freshman season in HBO’s history with 11.9 million total viewers once DVR viewing was factored in. Currently, the second season is averaging 11.3 million viewers, according to HBO.
Comparing premiere to finale, Sunday’s TD S2 ender fell 15% from the 3.2 million who tuned in for the Season 2 opener on June 21. However, in some numbers good news for HBO, the S2 finale did rise 25% from the series low of 2.18 million that the penultimate August 2 episode drew. In fact, that’s one of a couple of potentially positive signs for True Detective going forward.