‘The Night Of,’ HBO’s newest miniseries effort, premiered to strong ratings and critical acclaim last Sunday. The initial 9PM broadcast and two later broadcasts brought in a total of 1.3 million viewers. When the 1.5 million viewers who streamed the episode on HBO Go and HBO Now are factored in, the premiere of ‘The Night Of” has been watched by a grand total of 2.8 million people, which reads favorably when compared with other recent HBO premieres.
In comparison, ‘True Detective’ Season One’s January 2014 premiere opened to an audience of 2.3 million, though all viewers watched in the same night. HBO’s recently cancelled, but once highly anticipated series ‘Vinyl’ premiered to a relatively paltry 764,000 viewers when it premiere in January 2016. HBO’s last miniseries effort, David Simon’s ‘Show Me A Hero,’ debuted to an audience of 440,000, though the two-hour premiere was only aired once on its premiere date of August 16, 2015.
In addition to successful ratings, ‘The Night Of’ has received critical acclaim on a level unseen since the first season of ‘True Detective’. In a rave review written for The Atlantic magazine, Spencer Kornhaber writes that the most impressive aspect of ‘The Night Of’ is its original take on the tried-and-true hardboiled detective show: “But the most radical thing about The Night Of, at least from the episodes I’ve seen, is how it studiously avoids the notion of bad actors, villains, or even governmental incompetence among its main players. Most everyone here seems like a decent person trying to do the right thing to the best of their ability. The mounting conflict of the plot is therefore a comment on a larger system—and whether that comment ends up amounting to indictment or endorsement, perhaps surprisingly, remains to be seen.” He also writes that ‘The Night Of’ can be seen as a sort of “spiritual successor” to ‘True Detective,’ but without falling into the latter’s “unchecked literary pretensions”.
HBO has been in something of a rare creative slump, with the über-expensive, much-hyped ‘Vinyl’ scrapped after one season due to a tiny viewership and lukewarm critical reception. HBO’s ‘The Leftovers’ will conclude with the finale of its third season, and while the show is beloved by critics, its ratings are not nearly as hot. With ‘Game Of Thrones,’ HBO’s flagship product, coming to a likely end in 2018, it seemed like the network would have very little to compete with in this era of incredibly competitive content across a myriad of networks. However, ‘The Night Of”s successful premier and positive critical reception proves that the network that brought us such shows as ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘The Wire’ will likely remain the ‘King of Content’ for the foreseeable future .
‘The Night Of’ is executive produced Steven Zaillian, Richard Price, Peter Moffat, Jane Tranter, Garrett Basch, and the late James Gandolfini. The show is written by Richard Price and Steven Zaillian, and stars John Turturro (‘Barton Fink’) and Riz Ahmed (‘Nightcrawler’).