Despite opening to meager ratings, the Twin Peaks revival has just set a new streaming debut record for network Showtime. The new season of the show slithered onto the channel last week, and has since become a hot topic for film buffs and casual viewers alike.
Given the new Twin Peaks' topical popularity, many critics and fans were befuddled when, earlier this week, news broke that the rebooted series had garnered meager ratings. Though the revival gained Showtime its largest number of single-day streaming sign-ups in history, Twin Peaks: The Return ultimately only brought in some 506,000 viewers with its two premiere episodes. The cult favorite thus earned a surprisingly low 0.2 Neilsen rating within its demographic. However, though these numbers signaled bleak beginnings for the reboot, it looks like modern technology is going to save this golden oldie.
According to THR, new numbers from non-linear TV and DVR recordings paint a different picture of the Twin Peaks premiere. As of this morning, some 1.7 million viewers have tuned in to the two-part series debut, with over half of those numbers originating in alternate platforms. Simply put, around 1 million Twin Peaks viewers saw the show by means other than tuning into Showtime last Sunday at 9 p.m. Many viewers likely accessed the show through Showtime's app or Showtime Anytime subscriber service. According to the company, Twin Peaks actually has the most streaming viewers ever for an original debut on the network, as well as the highest percentage of streaming viewership of any Showtime original.
Showtime President and CEO David Nevins, who foresaw Twin Peaks's role in the streaming revolution, was hardly surprised by this news. In the same THR article, Nevins states:
“In the world that we live in now, offering original programming that attracts new subscribers is our primary business objective. By that standard, the Twin Peaks premiere is the biggest single-night driver we’ve ever had.”
In a world where TV is being re-defined by streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, it's a smart move by Showtime to push for more subscribers on their own streaming platform. The network is also likely trying to catch up with long-time competitor HBO, whose HBO Go streaming service has offered its shows a major ratings boost for years.
These numbers make sense, when you put them into context. Given that the ratings age group for Twin Peaks is 18-49, we're looking at a group of fans who grew up watching the original show on network television, or streamed the classic when it came to Netflix a few years back. Either way, it follows that this group mainly comprised of millenials then went on to watch the revival via streaming, as opposed to on Showtime proper. There are also likely a good number of young adults who, in lieu of shelling out for an actual Showtime subscription, used their parents' login info to access the reboot online.
As the ever-changing media landscape continues to evolve, it's nice to see it grow in favor of a broadcast original like Twin Peaks. As the mysterious David Lynch project has evolved across decades, so, too, have its fans.
Twin Peaks: The Return airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. EST on Showtime.
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