'Big Little Lies' Scores Big Ratings Gains to Start Season 2

Audiences were ready for the return of Big Little Lies.

The HBO series began its second season Sunday with its second-largest audience ever, drawing 1.42 million viewers for its on-air premiere and 2.5 million including replays and streaming. Only the season one finale had a bigger tune-in (2.6 million) for its first night.

Sunday's audience grew by 34 percent over the series debut in February 2017, which delivered 1.8 million viewers with replays and streaming.

HBO also says that the premiere drew series-high viewership on streaming platforms HBO Go and HBO Now, with combined viewing on the two services more than tripling that of the series premiere. (The cabler doesn't release viewership totals for its streaming platforms, like most of the rest of the industry.)

Replays and streaming pushed the Big Little Lies premiere's total audience up by 76 percent over the on-air debut. By comparison, Game of Thrones (which, to be fair, had a much higher starting point) gained about 50 percent with first-night replays and streaming.

Season one of Big Little Lies had a multiplatform audience of 8.5 million viewers, about seven times higher than the 1.17 million-viewer average for initial airings. 

Despite the two-year gap between airdates, season two of Big Little Lies picks up just a few months after the events of season one. Meryl Streep joins the already star-studded cast headed by Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz. 

Aside from Game of Thrones, Big Little Lies drew the biggest on-air premiere audience for an HBO series since the January debut of True Detective (1.44 million viewers).