TV Ratings: 'True Detective' Jumps in Return, 'Ballers' and 'Brink' Open Strong

True Detective Season 2 - H 2015

True Detective Season 2 - H 2015

The latest iteration of Nic Pizzolatto's True Detective kicked off on Sunday night, and its audience marked nearly a 40 percent uptick from the the first go-around. HBO's 9 p.m. telecast averaged 3.2 million viewers in initial live-plus-same day ratings — making it the show's second-highest night-of audience to date, behind only the freshman finale.

The evening's tally, higher as it may be, is an understatement of what the show will bring in over the coming weeks. The first season of True Detective passed 11 million viewers per episode once the entire audience (encores, DVR, HBO Go and on-demand) was taken into account. (That's one reason why HBO is no longer touting live-plus-same day stats.)

True Detective's first season kicked off under much different circumstances. In addition to its more favorable January open, half of its A-list cast, Matthew McConaughey, was enjoying a hot streak in the months running up to his Dallas Buyers Club Oscar win. It still stands as the most-watched HBO original drama premiere since Boardwalk Empire and ended up being the most-watched freshman season since Six Feet Under. This new season, starring Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch marks a complete narrative departure from the first.

Sunday also marked the premieres of HBO's new comedies Ballers and The Brink. Broader than some of the pay cable network's recent half-hours, their live-plus-day showings were strong — averaging a respective 2.2 and 1.6 million viewers.

Full details on True Detective's sophomore premiere, Ballers and The Brink will be available in a month when live-plus-seven day ratings have been combined with non-linear plays.