The third season of Westworld premiered this past Sunday, and things are looking up. The show has jettisoned its confusing multiple timelines, there’s been a change of scenery, and the acting and production are as high-caliber as they’ve been. I’m all stoked to watch the rise of the robots, part 3.
But not everyone feels like that. According to Variety, the premiere episode, “Parce Domine,” pulled in only 901,000 live viewers, a series low and a 57% drop from the season 2 premiere, which snagged just over 2 million live viewers.
Now, there is some nuance here. About 1.7 million people watched the season 3 premiere, meaning about as many streamed the episode as watched it live, which is a much more even split than it has been in years passed, when the numbers favored live viewers. Per Variety, the season 2 finale was watched by “1.6 million total viewers,” although I’m unclear if that just means live viewers or all viewers.
In any case, the point is that ratings are down. The first season averaged about 13.2 million viewers per episode across all platforms and the second season 9.2 million. It’s looking like the third season will fall short of those totals.
And if you ask me, the show itself is to blame. The first season deftly balanced a slow-burning mystery story with weighty ideas about artificial intelligence and personhood, while the second was like watching the world’s most boring philosophy professor try and make an action movie. The good news is that season 3 is off to a solid start, as the host Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) takes the fight to the humans, enlisting a possible new ally in the form of Caleb (Aaron Paul), a construction worker in the grip of technological malaise.
Can the show win viewers back? I’ll be watching new episodes on Sundays, at the least. But who will join me?
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