In the past decade, Sunday night TV has become an inescapable monster, packed with so many quality (“prestige,” if you will) shows that loom so large in our culture that you start to feel guilty if you’re one of those people who hasn’t seen “Homeland.” That’s the thing, though: Even if it might feel like you’re the only person on the planet who skipped “Breaking Bad” when it aired, if you look at the actual numbers….well, that might not necessarily be true.
We took cable shows that attract all the buzz — Twitter conversations, water-cooler talk, awards nominations, online recaps, glowing reviews, previews, TV critics’ adulation — and looked at the ratings for answers. These shows get a ton of attention. How many people actually watch?
(Note: Just for context with broadcast TV — a totally different world than cable — “NCIS,” one of the most-watched series in the country, will get an average of 20 million viewers a week once you factor in DVR ratings.
Also, while HBO and Showtime are subscription-based and AMC and FX are cable, these numbers below encapsulate live viewing, time-shifted programming, online streaming, on demand — basically, the most complete way that the networks tally their programming.)
A look at seven Sunday shows by season average viewers:
Here are some Sunday dramas and similar prestige shows (“Louie,” “The Americans”), and how many people watched the most recent season premiere versus how many people saw tweets about the episode the same night. For “Breaking Bad,” the data looks at the series finale, since Nielsen’s TV Twitter audience technology wasn’t around for that season premiere.
Plus, a breakdown of season average ratings, Sunday show by show — plus, “The Americans,” “Louie” and “Orphan Black,” three other non-Sunday series that get similar buzz.