Bill Simmons’ new HBO talk show has now aired 11 times and so far the ratings would have to be characterized as something less than they were hoping.
Through 11 episodes, “Any Given Wednesday” is averaging 222,455 viewers according to Nielsen (via Sports TV Ratings). Not surprisingly, the audience size appears to be somewhat dependent on the movie that airs before, with those movies averaging 323,273 viewers.
For example, Simmons’ show had its best ratings in their second episode. That was also the night with the largest lead-in audience with “Ted 2.” Likewise, AGW had its lowest ratings in Episode 5, the night with the lowest rated lead-in movie, “Dumb and Dumber To” (continued below).
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It is a bit of an apples and oranges comparison, but to give AGW’s ratings some perspective, ESPN’s daily afternoon talk shows (“Pardon the Interruption,” “Around the Horn,” and “Highly Questionable”) typically have audience sizes of 500,000-800,000. In the morning, “First Take” is in the neighborhood of 300,000-400,000 on ESPN2.
Now, those shows are on every weekday and ESPN is in a lot more homes. So they should have bigger audiences, but these are just to give you a sense of size.
And then there is Bill Maher’s HBO show, “Real Time with Bill Maher,” which is also a weekly show on HBO. That show has an average audience of 4.4 million. Of course, it has been around a lot longer (15 seasons) and is more established and less dependent on lead-in movies.
As for AGW, it appears to have a baseline audience of about 160,000. That is, it will draw an audience of at least 160,000 no matter what the lead-in movie is. Anything above that appears to be drawing from the lead-in crowd.
This is not to say the show is a failure at all. It is still very early and HBO is going to give Simmons plenty of time to make this work considering it is just one aspect of a much bigger media venture he is undertaking with HBO. The show is also still working to find the best format and is still being tweaked on a week-to-week basis.
Here are the lead-in movies for each of the episodes: