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Succession and Yellowjackets Season Premieres Hit Record Viewership

HBO's Succession and SHOWTIME's Yellowjackets hit record viewership

The Take

  • The season premieres of Succession on HBO and Yellowjackets on SHOWTIME were on Sunday, and both shows drew record-high viewership.
  • Succession had 2.3 million viewers across the linear HBO channel and the streaming service HBO Max.
  • Nearly two million viewers watched Yellowjackets across all platforms.
  • However, both shows trail their respective networks’ recent successes: House of the Dragon and The Last Of Us on HBO and Dexter: New Blood on SHOWTIME.

After over a year of waiting, the backstabbing dramas Succession and Yellowjackets returned to their homes on HBO and SHOWTIME this past weekend. The shows, two of the biggest on television, returned in competing time slots and drew record-high viewership for the shows.

Succession returned for Season 4 with series-high viewership, reaching 2.3 million viewers across HBO and HBO Max on Sunday. Yellowjackets drew nearly 2 million viewers across all platforms for SHOWTIME. (SHOWTIME did not release specific numbers.)

The Season 4 premiere of Succession is a 35% increase in viewership from the Season 3 finale in December 2021. And when compared with the premiere of Season 3 in 2021, Succession increased viewership by 0.9 million—or 64% more viewers. Not to be left out, it’s also the biggest premiere night performance for HBO since HBO Max launched in May 2020.

Meanwhile, Yellowjackets was SHOWTIME’s most-streamed debut ever, beating Dexter: New Blood. The show continues the trend of growing viewership for original programming, with a 54% increase from the Season 1 finale in January 2022. Variety also notes that the premiere marks a “110% rise in viewership” from the Yellowjackets series premiere in November 2021.

How do the ratings stack up?

Succession and Yellowjackets recorded viewership increases since their previous season’s finale and are close to matching the numbers of popular shows on their channel.

While House of the Dragon and The Last of Us hit premiere numbers closer to 10 million and 5 million, respectively, Season 2 of Euphoria and The White Lotus were closer to Succession numbers: around 1.5-2.5 million viewers.

On SHOWTIME, Dexter: New Blood recorded 2.2 million viewers for its premiere, but only 0.3 million viewers watched Billions Season 6. So, Yellowjackets is keeping pace, and the marketing push from Paramount+ With SHOWTIME is helping.

But the outlier here is cable drama Yellowstone on Paramount Network, which hit 12.1 million live-plus-same-day viewers for its Season 5 launch. The caveat is Yellowstone launched on four Paramount channels and then had encore telecasts. On the other hand, HBO and SHOWTIME rely on streaming to boost their numbers.

Two million viewers for a premiere day on other cable networks is a good day. Meanwhile, broadcast network TV averages around 5.4 million viewers for its live programming, but those are basic TV channels while HBO and SHOWTIME are pay cable.

In the coming weeks, networks will release weekly viewership data across platforms for both Succession and Yellowjackets, and it’s expected both shows will increase viewership. Last season, Succession averaged 7.2 million viewers per episode, while Yellowjackets averaged more than 5 million weekly viewers.

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