After a two-and-a-half-year break, HBO’s True Detective returned for a third installment on Sunday with back-to-back episodes, drawing 1.44 million viewers at 9 PM and 1.19 million at 10 PM (Live+Same Day).
That was down from the Season 2 debut in June 2015, which averaged 3.2 million viewers at 9 PM and 4.3 million for the night (L+SD), and also off from the January 2014 series opener in 2014 (2.3 million for the premiere). But it was in line with the recent debut of limited series Sharp Objects (1.5 million L+SD) and above the debut of Big Little Lies (1.1 million).
Last night’s deliveries mark a L+SD series low for the True Detective franchise, which has been a showcase for big stars — Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson (Season 1), Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn (Season 2), and Mahershala Ali (Season 3).
Because viewing patterns have evolved over the past few years, streaming data for the Nic Pizzolatto-created series will be key in comparing viewership for Season 2 and Season 3. The second season of True Detective debuted just two months after the launch of HBO’s SVOD services HBO Now/HBO Go which now account for a sizable portion of HBO viewing. Additionally, Season 2 of True Detective benefited from directly following blockbuster hit Game of Thrones in the Sunday 9 PM slot.