After a season full of red herrings and misdirects, The Killing returned with its second season Sunday, but for at least one week, many viewers already showed AMC that they had enough before it started. The two-hour premiere tallied 1.8 million total viewers and a 1.4 rating for the initial 8-10pm broadcast. Encores brought the total up to 2.5 million.
Those numbers are way down from Season 1 premiere numbers that brought in 2.7 million on the initial broadcast and a total of 4.7 million with encores. Those numbers would creep downward as the season progressed, hovering around a 1.8-2.0 million average once viewers began to realize the investigation was spinning its wheels.
The Season 2 premiere numbers are down even from the 2.2 million viewers that tuned in for a Season 1 finale that did not resolve who killed Rosie Larsen, but in fact added clouded the identity of the actual killer even more.
Reasons for the lower numbers could be attributed several reasons including next to no promotion by AMC. If someone took a close look at how The Killing Season 2 was promoted as compared to The Walking Dead Season 2, it might be best described as stepping off a plane in Montana and stepping off the plane in Las Vegas.
The Killing offered grand storylines of grief, the personal tax one takes working on homicides, and following leads to several dead ends, but two of the biggest problems that may have turned viewers away was a cliffhanger that seemed to have cancel all of the progress that had been made through most of the first season and the show’s most redeeming character, Detective Stephen Holder played superbly by Joel Kinnaman, who had been painstakingly built up was taken down in a single scene. Perhaps the biggest blow deal was the confirmation in January that the killer won’t be revealed until the Season 2 finale. Ouch! Oh and there was a nearly 10-month wait between seasons too.
Showrunner Veena Sud made no friends with her “I don’t want to be kinda liked,” response from the vitriol The Killing got after last year’s finale. It didn’t help that she compared her first season of The Killing to The Sopranos either. Sud offered no honorable defense nor did she give viewers on the fence an exciting reason to come back on the The Killing Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray.
P.T. Barnum, Veena Sud is not.
Take your pick; any number of these could have contributed to the dwindling interest and now AMC has to figure out how to get back those who walked away or lure new viewers in like, “Try The Killing, You Haven’t Missed Anything Yet!” Eh, that needs a little work.
But most shows will tell you how hard it is to grow an audience. Even AMC’s critical darling Breaking Bad struggles to grow its average number of viewers above 2 million mark. That kind of precedent may be enough to keep The Killing on the air, but after these initial ratings, would it surprise anyone if there was no one left to care who Rosie Larsen’s killer is when he or she is eventually revealed?
We’ll find out in another 10 weeks.