TV Ratings: With a Modest Start, 'Twin Peaks' Return Sees Massive Streaming Lift

Twin Peaks Still Kyle MacLachlan and Sheryl Lee - Publicity - H 2017
Couresy of Showtime

Twin Peaks returned on May 21 and immediate headlines about its ratings performance weren't terribly kind. After all, only 619,000 viewers tuned in to its two-hour premiere, a small portion of what a Showtime original typically draws. But subsequent DVR lifts and streaming data paint a more positive picture, albeit one where viewers clearly favor the pay network's streaming platforms.

As of Friday morning, at least 1.7 million viewers have tuned in to the Twin Peaks two-parter. More than half of those viewers did not watch it on the linear network last Sunday or on their DVR. Live-plus-3 returns have that audience rising to 804,000. So somewhere in the vicinity of 1 million watched on alternate platforms, including the OTT Showtime app and subscriber tie-in Showtime Anytime.

Per Showtime, Twin Peaks now has the most streaming viewers ever for an original series debut — with the highest percentage of streaming viewership of any Showtime original to date. The network also cited its biggest weekend and day (May 21) of streaming sign-ups, additions no doubt fueled by the revival of the long-dead ABC drama. “In the world that we live in now, offering original programming that attracts new subscribers is our primary business objective,” Showtime president and CEO David Nevins said in a statement. "By that standard, the Twin Peaks premiere is the biggest single-night driver we’ve ever had.”

In its an original iteration, then just a moody murder mystery only slightly quirky by broadcast standards, Twin Peaks premiered to 34.6 million viewers. It's an absurd number by today's standards, though it ultimately dipped down to 7.4 million before its cancellation. David Lynch's current evolution of the series is decidedly trippier, but the critical response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Still, network brass are likely hoping for something of a build. Twin Peaks is set to anchor Sunday nights well through the summer, with its 18-episode order set to run without much interruption. And, in the meantime, a linear drop-off for the coming two episodes is quite likely. Showtime posted parts three and four of Twin Peaks on its streaming service just after the premiere.