For the first time ever, less people tuned into a "Mad Men" season premiere than they did the previous season's debut. Though not by so few people that anyone should be at all alarmed. According to Deadline, last night's 2 hour season six premiere drew an estimated 3.4 million viewers, down slightly from the 3.54 million viewers the long-delayed season five premiere managed. Previous to this, each season premiere built on the one prior, sometimes significantly:
Season 1 Premiere (July 19, 2007) - 900,000 viewers
Season 2 Premiere (July 27, 2008) - 2.06 million viewers
Season 3 Premiere (August 16, 2009) - 2.76 million viewers
Season 4 Premiere (July 25, 2010) - 2.92 million viewers
Season 5 Premiere (March 25, 2012) - 3.54 million viewers
Season 6 Premiere (April 7, 2013) - 3.40 million viewers* - overnight numbers, could change
But last night's episode was still the second most watched "Mad Men" premiere -- or episode for that matter -- in the series' history, and its head-to-head competition (notably HBO's "Game of Thrones") has never been so strong. And the bigger test will be next week's episode. Every season has seen a big drop off from its premiere to second episode. Last year's went from 3.54 million viewers to 2.94 million (which at the time was still the second most watched "Mad Men" episode ever). If the next episode of this season -- entitled "The Collaborators" and directed by Jon Hamm himself -- can come up with a similar number, the folks at AMC should be more or less thrilled.