'Big Little Lies' Finishes With Series-High Viewership

The finale of the HBO drama scores its biggest audience ever for an initial airing, and the season as a whole is up substantially.
Jennifer Clasen/HBO

The finale of Big Little Lies captured the show's biggest audience ever for an initial airing, capping a season of substantial ratings growth for HBO.

Sunday's episode, which (seemingly) brought the series to a close, drew just under 2 million viewers — 1.98 million, to be precise. It passed the season one finale (1.86 million) as the show's most-watched hour for its first airing. Replays and streaming pushed the Sunday total to 3.1 million, also a series high.

Across all platforms, season two of Big Little Lies is averaging 10 million viewers per episode, according to HBO (which, like the rest of the industry, doesn't break out streaming figures from the aggregate). That's an increase of 18 percent over the 8.5 million who watched the first season.

That linear increases for the current season are even larger: It averaged 1.64 million viewers for first airings, a 40 percent jump over season one's 1.17 million. Each episode of season two improved on the comparable installment from the first season.

The increases in viewership came despite some cooling of critical acclaim for the series and a report that director Andrea Arnold had creative control taken away in postproduction so the episodes would be more in line with the style of season one helmer Jean-Marc Vallée. Sources say Arnold's contract did not include final cut on the series, and HBO released a statement praising her work.

July 23, 9:45 a.m. An earlier version of this story misstated the total multiplatform audience for Big Little Lies.