The Premiere Ratings Are In - And They're Looking Pretty Good

Written by: Blake Larsen

So the early numbers for "Through A Glass, Darkly" - the season 2 premiere of Outlander - are starting to come in and they are looking pretty darn good.  In fact, I think we might have just sealed the fate for an announcement of season 3.  Hit the jump to find out how well the show performed, and what it all means for Outlander, STARZ, and to us fans.

Here was the big question - could Outlander perform as well in it's season 2 debut as it did through most of season 1?  Furthermore, what was STARZ doing to keep the idea of "Outlander" in the consumer's collective conciousness?  Most importantly, once it aired, would Outlander do well enough to warrant a season 3? 

The overall answer is that the premiere performed VERY well over last weekend.  How well?  Let's set the scene very easily because you can get a major Popsicle headache from all the technical details and numbers.

Networks use a rating system called the Nielsen Ratings System.  You can read all about it here.  The short of it is that Nielsen measures how many people are watching any show at any given time via special cable boxes.  

But not everyone watches TV live anymore.  Nielsen has to account for DVR viewings now too.  So this is how they measure ratings:

LIVE numbers: the people who watch it when it airs live.

Live +3: people who watch it live plus those on DVR within the first three days of airing.

Live +7: people who watch it live plus those on DVR within the first seven days of airing.

So, again, how did Outlander do on premiere day?

"Through A Glass, Darkly" debuted to 1.5 MILLION people.  Considering that it's probably within the top 8 most popular shows that aired that day and the fact that it's on a subscription network, that's pretty exceptional.

Of course, that number isn't huge either.  In fact, it's relatively paltry when you compare it to Game Of Thrones' 8 million viewers, and the juggernaut numbers of The Walking Dead's 17 million viewers.  But, those shows are cultural phenomenons - Outlander isn't quite there yet.

So, how do we measure the success? We compare it to itself.  Outlander season 2 premiere DOUBLED the number of the season 1 premiere, "Sassenach."  That's right - season 1 premiered to about only 700k eyeballs.

So, these numbers are a huge success.  (Although it's a tad misleading because Outlander had episodes in season 1 that reached highs of 1.4 million - so there isn't a TON of growth.)

But where the show is doing very well is the Live +3 numbers.

The accounting for Live +3 (come out just today) has put the total number of viewers at 2.7 MILLION viewers.  Which means it's not only the most popular episode of Outlander BY FAR, but it's also the most popular premiere in STARZ' history.

We haven't even gotten to Live +7 yet....

It appears that STARZ has a pretty good success on it's hands with Outlander.  Not only did they retain the growth they experienced in season 1, but they had a fairly good improvement on that growth for season 2.

Many people may have complained about their marketing efforts - we are certainly in that group: read here and here - but between #PeekAtParis, the subway cars, a superb trailer,  the EW cover article, hitting the American TV circuit, all of the events in NY, it looks like STARZ has begun it's path to marketing their property with a little more depth and care.  Obviously, the numbers show it.

Let's not get too crazy though - Outlander still has A LONG WAY to go to become the cultural phenomenon that it deserves to be (at least within the television community.)  It's great to be nominated for Emmy's and Golden Globes, but you have to win them in order to be in the big leagues with the likes of Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, Game Of Thrones et al. 

But, these numbers are a good start down the big league path.  Now that it owns STARZ all time premiere record, Outlander's fate for season 3 has been sealed.  You can guarantee that it will happen.

Great job everyone!


  1. It's = it is.

    Sorry, I'm an editor. Apostrophe misuse drives me around the bend. Nice article otherwise. Yay Outlander!

  2. Great news,waiting on OL season 3 announcement!

  3. It's interesting to look at historical data because The Walking Dead Season 1 (2010) episode 1 had around 5 million viewers (it climbed to the 17 million by season 6). The numbers for Outlander Season 2 are awesome!

  4. Oops, I forgot to add the link to the historical data

  5. Do you think STARZ will release the number of streaming viewers from Thursday 12am EDT up to the broadcast time on Saturday?


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