HBO audiences love their Big Little Lies, at least according to Nielsen. Including encore showings and early streaming data, Sunday’s season-two finale was seen by the show’s best-ever 3.1 million viewers the night it aired, the network said Tuesday. That figure breaks down to 2 million viewers for the linear premiere telecast plus an additional 1.1 million for two same-day reruns and early HBO GO or HBO NOW streams. Both the 2 million and 3.1 million figure qualified as records for Big Little Lies, which previously notched its biggest numbers (1.9 million linear, 2.6 million all-in) with its April 2017 season-one finale.
As good as these numbers are for HBO, Big Little Lies’ actual audience is much bigger. The network keeps a running tally of all linear and streaming viewing for its shows over the course of a month, and then considers this cumulative figure the show’s true audience base. (This is why you often see the Game of Thrones audience pegged at north of 20 million viewers, even if Nielsen next-day numbers are closer to the 13 million to 14 million range.) HBO won’t have final cumulative ratings for BLL for a bit, but the show’s season premiere has already been seen by 12 million viewers, while episodes overall this season are averaging north of 10 million. At this point during season one, the show’s all-in average was closer to 7 million. Critics might not have loved how season two of BLL played out, but audiences have rendered a different verdict.