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Drop-Off In ‘Luther’ Viewership After UK Debut. But Why Make USA Audiences Wait 2 Months?

Drop-Off In 'Luther' Viewership After UK Debut. But Why Make USA Audiences Wait 2 Months?

The highly-anticipated 3rd season return of Luther to BBC One in the UK last night, drew a healthy 5 million viewers. 

And while those numbers are strong for the Idris Elba starrer, they are actually the lowest for a season premiere in the show’s 3-season history, according to the UK’s BroadcastNow, and some 600,000 viewers less that the last episode which aired in 2011.

So there’s a slight drop off. Although that’s in the UK. I’m expecting a gain in numbers here in the USA, when season 3 of the hit show makes its Stateside debut in September, based on what looks to me like continuously rising awareness of and interest in the series by Americans, as new audiences discover it and catch up ahead of September’s return (seasons 1 and 2 are streaming on Netflix, FYI).

I’m actually really surprised that the BBC chose to wait 2 full months after the series’ UK run this year, to broadcast it in the USA. That, to me, in this age of access-anything-anytime-anywhere demand for content, is an odd decision. 

For that reason, I believe piracy is likely, as I’m sure all the season 3 episodes will find their way online, on one of many video sharing sites, after they air in the UK, and before they reach USA shores. Distributors and exhibitors of content simply just can’t afford to delay the release of, or expect audiences to wait 2 months for something that’s already been broadcast elsewhere. It’s practically a lifetime in terms of content distribution in this century.

If you recall, what the UK’s Channel 4 and the show’s producers did with another hot British TV series, Misfits, was to make every episode available to USA audiences within 24 hours after they aired in the UK. Something like that makes most sense to me, and actually could be costly in the long run. 

If I watch it online before it officially airs on television, I don’t have much incentive to watch it again, when it eventually is broadcast on BBC America.

Let me make it clear that I’m certainly not encouraging piracy; but it’s a very real thing, and content creators/distributors/exhibitors, would be foolish to not take it into consideration when planning ahead.

But maybe I’m just missing something, and don’t have all the information in this case.

I did make inquiries to the BBC about this decision, but haven’t received any replies yet. If I do, I’ll share here.

But this looks to be the final season of Luther as a TV show, as Elba makes a push for a feature film based on the character.

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Well i downloaded the new episode and its REALLY GOOD! I think the viewership might be down because its summer a time when more people are doing other things. i always remember watching Luther in the fall but maybe they figured since Idris is in a summer tentpole movie (Pacific Rim) they would capitalize on his visibility. Either way i will continue to watch this wonderful show with such a unique lead character and hopefully they get to make the Luther movie.


Ok, to everyone that is saying 'be patient' that's not the point! The point is whether UK or US we shouldn't have to be patient because online is definitely filling the lag time and the networks need a more comprehensive strategy. I do not see why with the BBC having BBCamerica that couldn't have released it this weekend, they could have started on Sunday which is THE best day to capture attention. But we have to wait till September it doens't make sense. There needs to be more cross over because there is definitely interest in UK programming, a la 'Downton Abbey'


Why the hell not? We have to wait to see shows from the US. I'm sure a lot has to be done by way of clearance and advertising. Channel 4 who make MISFITS are more lenient.

Can I just say; for someone who bangs on about supporting black cinema/ tv or generally complaining that we're still lagging because of this and that (ESPECIALLY because of lack of black support) – encouraging piracy instead of waiting and contributing to the viewership – is trite and reckless. Why even mention 'seeing it before' it airs in the US? That is inciting piracy, and its for that reason these shows, these fantastic quality shows never run for as long as they should. Too damn greedy, wait your turn.


I still prefer watching things on tv, so I have no problem waiting until September (I don't connect my computer to my tv, they're too far away!). Loved the first 2 seasons, looking forward to season 3 (but I'd watch anything w/ Idris anyway… except that robot movie, what is that??).


I'm going to try to hold out till September, but it'll be hard

Britni Danielle

It's weird, indeed. The season 3 episode is already online. I've seen it. It was great!


I don't see the big deal here, viewers in the UK have to regularly wait months to view US shows. You should just learn to be patient .Also it probably doesn't matter to the BBC if viewers are low in the US for two reasons. One the programme is paid for by the license fee so the show is paid for by the British public and is primarily aimed at a British audience. Two Idris Elba has recently said that this will be the last season of Luther.


Curious decision by the BBC, indeed. But if they insist on delaying the U.S. premiere for 2 months, then they'd better figure out some kind of extra incentive for folks to tune in when it eventually does premiere, like some kind of giveaways or contests, live Tweeting sessions with Idris Elba and/or Neil Cross during the show, or extra interviews before or after the show. Because yesterday, hours before and after the Season 3 premiere, the Internets were abuzz that episode 1 premiere had leaked, and by the time September rolls around, those here in America who wanted to see the show would have seen it by that time…

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