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‘Westworld’ Season 3 Premiere Audience Sinks 57% vs Democratic Debate

HBO sci-fi series skipped all of 2019

After almost two years offline, HBO’s “Westworld” finally unfroze all motor functions on Sunday with its Season 3 premiere. And when it brought itself back online, the Evan Rachel Wood-led sci-fi series brought fewer viewers with it than the show put up the last time it booted up.

When comparing just their initial 9 p.m. airings, the “Westworld” Season 3 premiere, titled “Parce Domine,” earned 901,000 viewers, which is down 57% from the 2.1 million viewers put up by the Season 2 debut of the Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy-created sci-fi series, an episode that aired on April 22, 2018.

Of course, “Westworld’s” second season premiere didn’t have to go head-to-head with a Democratic debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, which was broadcast from 8-10 p.m. on Univision and CNN.

Looking at the bigger picture, Episode 301 of “Westworld,” which clocked in at 68 minutes, drew 1.7 million total viewers on Sunday. That tally includes the 9 p.m. airing on HBO, plus an encore, as well as streaming via the pay-TV channel’s HBO Go and HBO Now platforms.

That means in overall viewers, the “Westworld” Season 3 premiere was -43% from its second season’s first episode, which scored 3 million total sets of eyeballs, when counting linear, HBO Go and HBO Now viewers.

The start of Season 3 was also down from the end of Season 2, which earned 2.2 million total viewers on June 24, 2018.

HBO expects viewing of the “Westworld” Season 3 premiere episode to rise significantly over the coming weeks with more encores, DVR playback and streams on HBO Go and HBO Now. It is worth noting that Season 2 of “Westworld” received approximately 30% of its viewing from digital views and that since it’s been offline, HBO’s consumer viewing patterns have shifted, with digital platform viewing growing to as much as half of all viewing for the premium channel’s recent dramas.

Returning cast members for “Westworld” Season 3 include Wood as Dolores, Thandie Newton as Maeve, Ed Harris as Man in Black, Jeffrey Wright as Bernard, Tessa Thompson as Charlotte, Luke Hemsworth as Stubbs, Simon Quarterman as Lee Sizemore and Rodrigo Santoro as Hector Escaton.

They are joined by series newcomers Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad,” “Bojack Horseman”), Vincent Cassel (“Black Swan”), Lena Waithe (HBO’s “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” “Master of None”), Scott Mescudi a.k.a. Kid Cudi (HBO’s upcoming “We Are Who We Are”), NFL player Marshawn Lynch, John Gallagher Jr. (HBO’s “The Newsroom” and “Olive Kitteridge”), Michael Ealy (“Stumptown”) and Tommy Flanagan (“Sons of Anarchy”).

Readers can find our post-mortem interview with showrunners Nolan and Joy about the Season 3 premiere — and what’s to come over the remaining seven episodes of the season — here. And to find out what Paul told us about his new character Caleb’s relationship with Dolores, go here.

“Westworld” airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.