Jude Law's 'The Young Pope' Sets Ratings Record for Sky Italia

The Young Pope - Still - H - 2016
Fremantlemedia International

Paolo Sorrentino’s papal drama marks the pay TV network's biggest ever debut for a series.

Academy Award-winning director Paolo Sorrentino’s new show The Young Pope, with its taboo subject, has been buzzing since its strong preview at the Venice International Film Festival last month.

Jude Law stars as an irrational, conservative (chain-smoking) pope, the first from America, with Diane Keaton as his loyal adviser. James Cromwell and Silvio Orlando also star.

Pay TV network Sky Italia scored 953,000 spectators on average for the first two episodes, which premiered Friday. This represents an increase of 45 percent over mafia drama Gomorrah, 42 percent over political saga 1992 and far surpasses the debuts of other popular series including Game of Thrones, True Detective, House of Cards and Westworld.

The show debuted Friday across Sky Atlantic in Italy, Germany and Austria. Canal Plus launches the show Monday, Sky UK and Ireland on Thursday and HBO stateside early next year.

The Young Pope failed to break overall show records, as the second season of Gomorrah scored an average of 1.1 million viewers in May. Sky Italia has a subscriber base of 4.7 million.

Italians have always been drawn to political series. Public broadcaster Rai on Tuesday debuted the period political drama Medici: Masters of Florence. The show, which stars Dustin Hoffman and Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden, scored an average of 7.6 million viewers for the first two episodes.

The Young Pope has been sold by FremantleMedia in over 80 countries. Production company Wildside has confirmed that a second season is currently in the works.

On Tuesday, Sorrentino was a guest of the Italian delegation at President Barack Obama's last state dinner in honor of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Sorrentino also has announced his next film to be a project on former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi