'Yellowstone' Returns Big for Paramount Network, 'Perry Mason' Strong on HBO

The third-season debut of the modern western draws its biggest audience ever; Fox News gets big numbers from its Trump rally coverage on Saturday.
Courtesy of Paramount Network; HBO
Kevin Costner in 'Yellowstone,' Matthew Rhys in 'Perry Mason.'

The season three premiere of Yellowstone drew the Paramount Network show's biggest audience ever — by a wide margin — on Sunday. HBO, meanwhile, got a solid start from its reimagined Perry Mason. On Saturday, Fox News got big returns for President Trump's rally in Oklahoma.

Yellowstone opened with 4.2 million viewers, the largest same-day ever for both the show and Paramount Network and a 76 percent jump over the 2.4 million who tuned in to the second-season premiere. The previous same-day high for Yellowstone was 2.83 million for the series premiere in 2018. The initial audience for Sunday's show is within 800,000 viewers of the show's multiplatform average for season two.

The premiere also more than doubled the season two debut's ratings among adults 18-49 and adults 25-54. It also outdrew every episode of The Walking Dead in 2020 to become the most watched initial airing of a cable drama in 2020. 

Yellowstone also aired on fellow ViacomCBS networks CMT, TV Land and Pop. Including those simulcasts and replays, the premiere averaged 6.6 million viewers.

On HBO, Perry Mason delivered 884,000 viewers for its on-air premiere and 1.7 million viewers across all platforms, marking the best series premiere on the premium cabler in almost two years — since Sharp Objects in July 2018. The reworking of the classic series, with Matthew Rhys as the title character, got nearly half of its audience from replays and streaming.

Perry Mason outdrew the first-night tallies for both Watchmen (799,000 linear, 1.5 million multiplatform) and The Outsider (724,000/1.2 million), which rank among HBO's most watched series of the past year. Watchmen ended its fall 2019 run with some 7 million viewers per episode, while The Outsider clocked in at 9 million-plus over the course of its 10 episodes.

On Saturday, the Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, may have played to a less-than-full arena, but it drew a big audience on cable news. Fox News drew 7.66 million viewers from 8-10 p.m., helping the network to its best-ever showing in primetime on a Saturday. CNN averaged 2.2 million and MSNBC, 1.9 million over those two hours, though neither carried the rally.