‘Succession’ vs. ‘Yellowjackets’ Viewership: Which Sunday Season Premiere Reigned Supreme?

Subscribers to premium-cable channels HBO and Showtime got their money's worth Sunday night at 9.
Sarah Snook in HBO's "Succession" and Simone Kessell in Showtime's "Yellowjackets"
Sarah Snook in HBO's "Succession" and Simone Kessell in Showtime's "Yellowjackets"
Photos courtesy of HBO and Showtime

Sunday night was a busy one for fans of premium-cable dramas. Hell, with both “Succession” Season 4 and “Yellowjackets” Season 2 bowing at 9 p.m., that one hour alone was stacked.

“Succession” on HBO and HBO Max drew 2.3 million viewers with its fourth- (and final-) season premiere, a new series high. That linear-and-streaming tally was 62 percent better than the Season 3 premiere, which drew 1.4 million viewers, and 33 percent above its finale (1.7 million). The third-season episodes ended up averaging 7.2 million viewers across all platforms — that number includes weeks of delayed viewing per episode.

Over on rival Showtime, “Yellowjackets” Season 2 opened to “nearly” 2 million viewers across all platforms, per Showtime, up 110 percent from the November 2021 series premiere. The Season 2 opener did 40 percent better than the Season 1 finale. The second season of “Yellowjackets” had a nice head start on “Succession,” bowing Friday for Showtime streaming subs; those numbers are included here.

Pushing subscribers from linear to streaming, and getting the heck out of “Succession’s” way, is a win-win idea. That Showtime OTT (over-the-top) app is going the way of “Succession” soon. In September, the Showtime app will be shuttered as the top Paramount+ plan, which includes Showtime, will be rebranded as “Paramount+ with Showtime.”

The Showtime linear-cable channel will go through the same rebranding, which is a bit weird. The logic there is twofold: 1) Paramount+ has become the dominant platform, whereas Showtime is just turning into a content brand, and 2) Showtime’s linear channel, while a revenue maker, will likely go away at some point.

Streaming is clearly the future. It’s also the present: “Yellowjackets” Season 2 enjoyed the most-streamed (and on-demand) season premiere in Showtime’s history.

As a result of all that, Paramount+ prices are going up. Future Showtime seems to be positioning itself as a spinoff machine to feed Paramount Global’s core streaming service with new installments of “Billions,” “Dexter,” “Ray Donovan,” and (probably) others.

Succession Season 4 Episode 1 Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin
Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin in Season 4 of HBO’s “Succession”Courtesy of Claudette Barius / HBO

“Succession” is a success even by HBO’s Sunday-night standards. This past weekend’s “Succession” Season 4 debut drew 51 percent more viewers than the Season 2 premiere of “The White Lotus.” Only “House of the Dragon,” “The Last of Us” and “Euphoria” have launched bigger there recently.

Created by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, “Yellowjackets” is the saga of a team of high-school girls soccer players who become the (un)lucky survivors of a plane crash deep in the remote northern wilderness. The series chronicles their descent from one team to savage clans, while also tracking the lives they’ve attempted to piece back together nearly 25 years later.

Season 1 of “Yellowjackets” received seven Emmy nominations (but had no wins) and averaged over 5 million weekly viewers across platforms.

Jesse Armstrong created “Succession.” The showrunner executive produces alongside Adam McKay, Frank Rich, Kevin Messick, Jane Tranter, Mark Mylod, Tony Roche, Scott Ferguson, Jon Brown, Lucy Prebble, Will Tracy, and Will Ferrell. The first three seasons have amassed 48 Emmy nominations and 13 wins, including Outstanding Drama Series, for both the second and third seasons.

“Succession” explores themes of power and family dynamics through the eyes of patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox) and his four grown children: Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Siobhan (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin), and Connor (Alan Ruck).

Read IndieWire’s “Succession” Season 4 review here; our Ben Travers gave it an “A.” Our “Yellowjackets” Season 2 review is here; Travers gave that one a “B-.” Hey, that’s still honor roll.

New “Succession” episodes air Sunday nights at 9/8c on HBO; “Yellowjackets” occupies the same time slot on Showtime.

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