A Hard Knocks Raiders promo.

HBO’s Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Oakland Raiders has created plenty of conversation through its first two episodes, from hot air balloons to horseback riding to Jon Gruden’s clashes with Johnathan Abram in the first one to Antonio Brown’s feet, Richie Incognito as peacemaker, and Mike Mayock’s knowledge of George Clinton and Bootsie Collins in the second one. And viewers are tuning in. As per HBO, the Aug. 6 premiere delivered a linear and digital audience of 879,000 same-night viewers (up 13 percent over last year’s Browns premiere), and the Aug. 13 second episode brought in 887,000 same-night viewers (an 18 percent rise over last year’s second Browns episode).

Those rises are significant, considering that there was a fair bit of interest in last year’s Browns edition. And what’s perhaps even more notable is how the ratings stack up to all the other editions of Hard Knocks. Here are some notes on that from HBO:

The audience for the [premiere] show on the Raiders is the second highest premiere night for the Hard Knocks franchise in the past nine years, trailing only the NY Jets which delivered 1.3 million viewers in 2010 for episode #1.

…[Tuesday’s episode] is the top performing second episode of Hard Knocks in the past seven years.  One has to go back to the Miami Dolphins season and episode #2 in 2012 to find a higher viewership total (984,000 viewers).

So far, this version of Hard Knocks has been quite entertaining, and it’s also shed some light on the national stories going on around the Raiders (particularly with Brown’s feet and his helmet protest). And that may be one reason for the solid viewership; beyond just those interested in the Raiders or interested in Hard Knocks regardless of the team covered, the series is covering a team with one of the big national training camp stories out there. It also may have helped that episode two featured joint practices with and then an exhibition game against the Los Angeles Rams, a team with plenty of their own star power, recent success, and fandom. At any rate, we’ll see how the ratings continue from here on out.

New episodes of Hard Knocks air Tuesdays on HBO, beginning at 10 p.m. Eastern.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.