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With reports that Apple’s hit series Ted Lasso has just shattered previous viewership records, it looks like Apple TV+ may finally be coming into its own.
There’s little doubt that Apple’s fledgling video streaming service got off to a slower start than most when it launched in 2019. After all, since the service was focused on original content, it had no library of classic movies and TV shows to fall back on. Instead, Apple had to spend billions of dollars to bankroll and produce everything that appeared on the service.
However, Apple undauntedly continued to focus on quality over quantity, seemingly with the tenacious idea that if it kept on building out its catalogue of great stories, people would eventually come, and it appears that it’s found its first major hit in Ted Lasso.
Ted Lasso features Jason Sudeikis as a loveable, down-to-earth American football coach thrown into the tumultuous waters of European Football when he’s inexplicably hired to coach AFC Richmond. The first season of the show proved to be a breakout hit when it debuted last year, pulling in a whole new audience, and earning 20 Emmy nominations — the most nominations ever received by a freshman comedy series, a record which was previously set by Glee when it earned 19 nominations back in 2010.
Second Time’s an Even Bigger Charm
While Apple still isn’t releasing hard numbers for how many eyeballs it’s managed to gain, it told Deadline that the debut of the second season of the Emmy-nominated series was the biggest premiere in the service’s 18-month history. It surpassed all prior records for the biggest single-day premiere, the largest opening weekend, and the number one debut by a sizeable margin.
The first season of Ted Lasso already drew in record numbers of viewers, and now the second season appears to have eclipsed even those. According to Deadline:
- Apple TV+ grew its viewers by a record-breaking 50% week-over-week during the Season 2 premiere weekend, July 23–25.
- The viewership for the second season premiere was six times higher than the viewership on the premiere weekend for season 1 last summer.
- Viewers may have come to see Ted Lasso, but they stuck around for other shows too, with a halo effect boosting viewership for Schmigadoon, Physical and Mythic Quest.
- Premiering in more than 100 countries, the first season 2 episode of Ted Lasso drove Apple TV+ to a 200% viewership increase across the U.S., U.K., Canada, India, Italy, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, France and more.
While it’s difficult to say what these increases mean without hard numbers behind them, it’s also hard to argue that Apple has a major hit on its hands with Ted Lasso. After all, it also shattered the record set by Tom Hanks’ Greyhound last summer — a major feature film that was originally supposed to debut in theatres.
Not surprisingly, the July 10, 2020 debut of Greyhound on Apple TV+ set the largest opening weekend release ever for the service. Of course, that wasn’t a particularly high bar at the time, but it’s more notable that the audience numbers also rivalled those of a summer theatrical box office hit. In fact, 30 percent of those who watched the movie signed up for Apple TV+ for that reason alone.
Hence, it’s a pretty significant feather in Apple’s cap for Ted Lasso to surpass even those kinds of numbers — Jason Sudeikis drew in more viewers than Tom Hanks.
More Exciting Things to Come
There’s no doubt that Ted Lasso is a great show, but it’s also just the beginning of some other pretty amazing stuff that Apple has in the pipeline, and with eleven more episodes of Ted Lasso all coming out on a weekly basis, viewers are going to be hanging around on Apple TV+ well into October.
This means that they’ll be paying more attention when Apple releases some of its other highly anticipated hits, like Foundation — an extremely ambitious project based on Isaac Asimov’s legendary sci-fi trilogy. If Apple pulls this one off, it will be the new Game of Thrones.
While many have tried and failed to translate Asimov’s extremely complex world-building trilogy to the big screen — after all, it’s an epic saga that spans an entire galaxy of hundreds of worlds over the course of thousands of years — Apple was apparently ambitious enough to pick up the series after hearing only one sentence from producer David S. Goyer.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Goyer said that Apple executives asked him, sort of laughingly, to pitch the series in a single sentence, to which the producer described it in terms of a Chess game.
It’s a 1,000-year chess game between Hari Seldon and the Empire, and all the characters in between are the pawns, but some of the pawns over the course of this saga end up becoming kings and queens.David S. Goyer
It’s hard to understate how incredibly ambitious Foundation is, and what a coup it will be for Apple TV+ if it can pull this off. Even HBO couldn’t figure out how to develop Asimov’s works into a series, despite throwing some serious talent and money in an attempt to do so.
No one knows if it will work, but I can say there’s definitely never been a show like it on TV before.David S. Goyer
Goyer has some unique ideas, however, including extending the lifespans of a few key characters so that there’s continuity from season to season as the story unfolds over the course of its thousand-year arc. If Foundation succeeds, Goyer plans it to run as an 80-hour story spread across eight seasons.
Of course, that’s not all that’s coming to Apple TV+ this fall. The season 2 premiere of The Morning Show is also on deck, along with a new Jon Stewart series and an in-depth documentary on the events of 9/11 from the perspective of the President’s War Room, with never-before-heard testimony from the U.S. political and military leaders of the time — and those are just the tip of the iceberg.