Beyonce’s “Lemonade” HBO Special Drew Modest Ratings, Made Big Impact (Updated)

Beyonce's Lemonade [Official Cover Art]

Update: The previously reported numbers for the initial run of HBO’s “Lemonade” special — 0.4 adults 18-49 rating, 0.79 million total viewers, as reported by Zap2it and Showbuzz — apparently do not account for non-subscribers who watched the show as part of a free preview.

While the revelation, if accurate, does not change the modesty of the numbers, it does all but guarantee “Lemonade” reached a notably larger television audience than indicated by the official ratings. Those extra free preview viewers — as well as those who either legally or illegally streamed the special — further explain how a show with an unspectacular official TV audience was able to so greatly impact the pop culture conversation.

Showbuzz adds that a Sunday night encore of “Lemonade” drew a 0.35 rating and 0.72 million viewers, thus nearly doubling the show’s initial TV audience. And that duplicated audience, still, would not account for those who watched as part of the preview, streamed the special or watched a DVR’d broadcast after Saturday.

In a reminder that ratings and impact are not always correlated, confirmation has emerged that Beyonce’s “Lemonade” special drew fairly modest live+same-day television ratings.

It nonetheless made quite the impact.

According to data first posted by Zap2it’s TVBTN, the initial airing of HBO’s “Lemonade” drew a 0.4 adults 18-49 rating and 0.79 million total live+same-day viewers. While the breakdown reflects an admirably young skew, especially for a Saturday night program — as a point of comparison, the previous week’s “Confirmation” movie drew 0.94 million viewers but only a 0.2 in the demo — neither figure is large.

The television rating would, of course, not capture those who streamed the broadcast (either legally or illegally). It does not capture those who recorded and watched the special after Saturday. Still, it is certainly not a strong figure.

Despite that modest performance on television, “Lemonade” drove considerable real-time conversation on social media. It helped generate immense enthusiasm for the launch of Beyonce’s “Lemonade” album, which is dominating the iTunes sales charts. It also became a centerpiece of entertainment news stories, with heavy focus emerging for topics like the identity of “Becky with the good hair.”

Written by Brian Cantor

Brian Cantor is the editor-in-chief for Headline Planet. He has been a leading reporter in the music, movie, television and sporting spaces since 2002.

Brian's reporting has been cited by major websites like BuzzFeed, Billboard, the New Yorker and The Fader -- and shared by celebrities like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj.

Contact Brian at brian.cantor[at]


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