The debut of a new HBO series is always an event, especially after the monster success of Game of Thrones. It was expected by many that combining the taste for stories that HBO viewers have with something as tantalizing as a new DC series that functions as a sequel to Watchmen would be too much to resist. The first reports on the first episode's debut saw it deliver a decent enough rating with 1.5 million viewers tuning in for the live broadcast of the initial chapter, but compared to the adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire it's not lighting up the ratings, which has left some wondering about just how well the series is actually doing.
In a new report on Variety, the numbers and HBO's strategy for the series become more clear as the trade reports that the series is bringing in "an average of 7.1 million viewers across HBO’s linear channels and streaming platforms." This would include fans watching as the series airs plus later on HBO Go, HBO Now, and when episodes re-air on HBO2. To compare the series to other HBO shows, Watchmen is the most-watched new series for the premium cable network since Big Little Lies debuted in 2017. Furthermore the series is the most popular new series on premium cable for the year, besting the likes of His Dark Materials for the title.
The most recent episode of the series (the show's seventh) saw the highest ratings since the premiere and with only two episodes remain in this season of the series it's likely that the series will have strong legs throughout the holiday season as it's replayed in its entirety and available for binge watching. This leaves the question of a renewal up in the air though. Creator Damon Lindelof previously said that they've planned for the nine episode first season to tell a full story but that if fans are eager for more then they would return.
"It was designed to be a complete story much in the vein of shows like Fargo or True Detective, with an understanding that there are many Watchmen stories to tell, but there's not a big cliffhanger in the final episode," Lindelof said. "I think the majority of the mysteries -- at least the ones that are central to the stories that we tell -- are resolved by the end of the ninth episode."
It's unclear if a second season will be ordered for the series, but given the interest so far, it seems fans want more.
"If the idea is right, and if there is a compelling reason to do it, then I'd consider it," he said about a second season or more stories. "I haven't had that idea yet. The other thing about Watchmen is that it doesn't belong to me. Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins created this thing. I had the opportunity to be its steward for a couple of years. There is going to be more Watchmen, independently of whether I do it. It should be done by someone who really deeply cares about it and has a reason to."
Watchmen airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO. The next episode, "A God Walks Into Abar" will air on December 8th.