Crank up the surround sound. HBO's The Pacific premieres this Sunday and I'm really looking forward to it having just watched Band Of Brothers. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks reunited with HBO to take on the Pacific Theater of Word War 2 in another 10 part miniseries.
I've watched some of the previews and visually it's stunning. The reviews have been great so far, with a 90 rating on Metacritic as I write this. Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune, who used to refer people to our blog all the time for ratings info, but probably won't anymore (can't say I'd blame her, really), gave it four out of a possible four stars, and she's by not alone, half of the reviews on Metacritic so far gave it a perfect score.
Variety gave it the lowest score so far, with three out of five stars.
I'm interested to see how it does in the ratings, not that ratings are really what HBO is going after since it doesn't sell advertising. I'm interested to see how it compares with to Band of Brothers though. Eight and a half years ago the heavily promoted Band of Brothers premiere averaged nearly 10 million viewers.
But that was 2 days before 9/11, and being sensitive to the climate of the times, HBO stopped its marketing campaign. The second episode on 9/16/01 still averaged 7.3 million viewers and episodes 3-5 averaged around six million viewers, about as well as Six Feet Under was doing back then.
Though it's certainly a big budget production, and I'm expecting it to be as good as most of the reviews suggest, I'll be stunned if The Pacific pulls numbers like those. In 2001 hardly anyone had a DVR. There was no On Demand, and even if you had an HDTV, you couldn't watch HBO in HD.
Now DVRs are in more than one out of every three homes and around 2 out of 5 people have access to them. Between DVR and HBO On Demand and HBO On Demand in HD, it's just harder to corral those kinds of audiences for premiere telecasts. Darn near impossible, I'd guess. HBO doesn't generally release a lot of ratings info, but hopefully for this they'll produce cumulative ratings.
Though I don't think it will do nearly as well with the premiere telecasts, it won't surprise me if The Pacific does as well as Band of Brothers when DVR, On Demand and subsequent airings are factored in.