The premiere of HBO’s latest series, The Idol, did not experience a huge audience turnout on Sunday night, but it did line up with some of the recent series debuts on the premium cable outlet. The Idol, which was initially surrounded by controversy due to its provocative trailers and received negative reviews, had 913,000 viewers across HBO (premiere and three replays) and MAX on Sunday. However, the majority of this viewership likely came through streaming on MAX. Final numbers for the show’s on-air premiere will be available on Tuesday.
The Idol’s 913,000 viewership was a significant drop compared to the numbers garnered by the final season of Succession, which screened before The Idol in HBO’s 9 p.m. Sunday spot. However, when compared to a few other recent HBO drama debuts, such as Winning Time and The White Lotus season one, The Idol’s viewership is about identical. Euphoria, which features The Idol’s co-creator Sam Levinson, launched in 2019 to 1.1 million viewers.
If recent patterns hold true, The Idol’s viewership will continue to grow by a few times as the season progresses since HBO measures the season average for 90 days after a show premieres. Winning Time concluded its first season with 6 million viewers per episode, and Euphoria averaged 6.6 million viewers. The White Lotus, which increased its viewership during its run, ended season one with an average of 9.3 million viewers per episode.
The Idol features Lily-Rose Depp as a struggling pop star attempting to make a comeback and Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, who is also a co-creator, as a nightclub proprietor who seduces Depp’s character. Levinson, Tesfaye, and Reza Fahim developed the series, which underwent major recasting and reshoots midway through production, prompting reports of a chaotic environment on set. However, HBO and the show’s principals denied the claims. Levinson, Tesfaye, and Fahim executive produced the show along with Kevin Turen, Ashley Levinson, Joe Epstein, Aaron L. Gilbert for BRON, and Sara E. White.
Overall, The Idol’s debut was not a complete success, but it still has the potential to pick up viewership as the season progresses. With an all-star cast and a storyline that, despite controversy, has intrigued audiences, The Idol could still surprise viewers and critics alike and become a must-watch show.