HBO Max’s Ratings Euphoria

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photo b y HBO

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How hot is Euphoria? HBO this week said that even airing opposite the Super Bowl, its edgy Gen-Z drama was able to attract a series-high 5.1 million viewers within a few hours of its premiere. That number includes viewers who watch the show live on TV, record it via DVR, catch the same-day reruns on HBO, and, most importantly, stream it. Given the show’s youthful skew, you’d expect a big chunk of Euphoria’s audience to come from streaming, but I have to admit I was a bit shocked when HBO/HBO Max content chief Casey Bloys this week told me just how much of the series audience comes from HBO Max. “Eighty percent of viewing is taking place on the platform,” he told me, noting that other HBO recent hits such as Mare of Easttown and White Lotus drew 50 and 60 percent of their audiences from Max, respectively.

Euphoria’s streaming skew explains why the overall audience for the show is much bigger than even the numbers HBO reports after episodes premiere each week. That 5.1 million HBO reported for this Sunday’s episode will triple within the next few weeks as audiences catch up. Already, for example, last month’s season premiere is estimated to have been watched by a jaw-dropping 17 million viewers. You’d never guess that from the same-day numbers Nielsen reports. The ratings company only tallied 254,000 same-day viewers for the show’s January 9 return; this week’s episode notched 283,000 same-day viewers. But once those DVR replays and HBO Max streams get tallied, the total audience explodes. “I think Euphoria at this point has taken off into another stratosphere,” Bloys says.

I talked to the HBO/HBO Max boss on Tuesday in conjunction with the platform’s appearance at the TV Critics Association virtual press tour. Among the other tidbits I gleaned from a quick ten-minute chat with Bloys:

➽ While Prime Video has already launched a massive marketing campaign for its new Lord of the Rings series, Bloys isn’t feeling any pressure to start beating the drums for Game of Thrones spinoff House of the Dragon. “When you’re talking about rolling out a show, timing is important,” he said. “You don’t want to do it too late but you don’t want to do it too soon, so that you spend a lot of money telling everybody about something that doesn’t air for months and months, when hundreds of other shows are going to air in between. That’s what we’re usually balancing is, when is the optimal time for messaging to start?” Bloys played coy when I asked if the Dragon effort would roar to life. “Our campaign will kick in at some point,” he laughed. “How’s that for vague?”

➽ As he’s said for months now, a second season of And Just Like That … depends on the cast and producers having the right idea for the show and having a desire to do it. Showrunner Michael Patrick King recently told Variety he definitely wants to come back, so is HBO Max still interested? “Oh, yeah,” Bloys said.

➽ I asked Bloys why HBO Max originals such as Hacks have the same weekly cadence as HBO shows, but don’t also premiere new episodes in primetime (9 or 10 p.m. Eastern) the way HBO shows do when dropping on Max. Instead, they simply appear on the service in the wee hours of the morning, like most streaming-only shows. “It’s a fair question,” he told me. “I don’t have a good answer for you.” I don’t know if Bloys will consider making a change, but anecdotally, Apple TV+ has benefited by having its Friday premieres actually bow Thursday evenings at 9 p.m. Eastern, while HBO-branded shows still get a lot of buzz from audiences almost surely watching nearly live on HBO Max.

HBO Max’s Ratings Euphoria