TV Ratings: Sampling and Replays Boost HBO's 'The Night of' Premiere

The Night Of Still H 2016

It's a solid start for HBO's latest drama — thanks, in part, to aggressive sampling.

The Night of raked in 1.3 million viewers over the course of three telecasts on Sunday night. Combined with the 1.5 million viewers who already streamed the episode during a preview window, the first installment has now reached at least 2.8 million viewers.

Offering up the first episode on HBO On Demand, HBO Go and HBO Now before the July 10 premiere marked a rare move for the pay cable network. HBO has historically not been very big on sampling, but the critical fervor around The Night of, combined with the network's relatively thin drama catalog, has seen it pushing the miniseries in unexpected ways.

As HBO premieres go, The Night of's was pretty good. Back in 2014, True Detective rolled out with 2.4 million viewers on premiere night. Vinyl, recently canceled after it was initially renewed for a second season, opened with only 764,000 viewers for its premiere telecast in January.

HBO is very much in the long-play game for TV ratings, combining encores, streaming, live and time-shifted plays for gross scores that better reflect the reach of its shows. (With no advertisers, standard tallies aren't terribly relevant.)

The number certainly makes some shows look better than others. The pay cabler recently revealed that juggernaut Game of Thrones has been pulling 23.3 million viewers a week.