'Euphoria' Premiere Gets Big Ratings Boost From Streaming

HBO's heavily marketed series Euphoria didn't bring big returns Sunday for its on-air premiere, but its digital numbers were fairly solid.

Showtime's crime drama City on a Hill has a similar story: Ratings for its linear series debut were so-so, but replays and digital viewing put it ahead of some other recent debuts on the channel. Big Little Lies, meanwhile, grew in its second week on HBO.

The controversial Euphoria, which stars Zendaya and features teenage characters (played by young-adult actors) heavily engaged in drugs and sex, drew a modest 577,000 viewers for its on-air premiere. Streaming on HBO Go and HBO Now helped significantly, pushing the show's first-night total to a little under 1 million viewers (a gain of 70 percent). 

The series is the first HBO original to focus primarily on high school-age characters, so it's perhaps not a surprise that a large chunk of Euphoria's audience is watching on digital platforms that tend to have younger users. HBO says the audience on HBO Now was the largest for a series premiere since Westworld in 2016.

City on a Hill, meanwhile, delivered 532,000 viewers for its on-air debut and 233,000 more via replays for a Sunday total of 765,000. Streaming and advance viewing — Showtime made the premiere available online and on demand 10 days early — bring its total to 1.4 million, which is ahead of comparable debut windows for SMILF, The Chi, Kidding and Black Monday. Streaming and advance viewing accounts for about 44 percent of the total audience for the premiere so far.

The series, set in early 1990s Boston, stars Kevin Bacon as a corrupt FBI agent and Aldis Hodge as a prosecutor who form an unlikely partnership.

As for Big Little Lies, its on-air numbers improved on the previous week's second-season premiere: The HBO show drew 1.47 million viewers, up from 1.42 million the previous week and the second most ever for an initial airing (behind the season one finale). The premiere had the second-largest first-night audience of the series to date with 2.5 million (also trailing the season one finale). Sunday's episode didn't quite reach those heights, but HBO says it's above 2 million viewers with streaming and replays.