Host John Oliver and his Last Week Tonight writing team have put together a phenomenal collection of deep-dive segments on an array of subjects, including Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. The hit HBO show’s humorous back-and-forth with the New York real-estate mogul has been one of the more entertaining developments since the 2016 election cycle kicked off. It has also been one of its strongest drivers for ratings, especially the “Make Donald Drumpf Again” segment Oliver did in February. In fact, its official YouTube clip has earned the cable network a brand new distinction.
According to CNN, the Last Week Tonight episode from Feb. 28 has become HBO’s most-watched ever with a staggering 23.3 million YouTube views so far. Add that to a whopping 62 million views on Facebook, and you’ve got what a network spokesperson called “a record for any piece of HBO content” in the history of the network’s online presence.
That’s great news for Oliver and his team, though it’s pertinent to remember that social-media views aren’t counted the same as Nielsen ratings.
Web video views are not analogous to Nielsen’s TV ratings. Facebook counts a video as being “viewed” after only three seconds. On YouTube, about 30 seconds of playback counts as a view.
TV ratings, on the other hand, are an average of the per-minute viewership of the entire episode. Oliver’s segments are about 20 minutes long.
Despite the numbers discrepancy, the “Donald Drumpf” episode outperformed all previous Last Week Tonight episodes with a whopping 6 million television viewers. This number includes live viewership and playback from DVRs and VOD orders. The result? What HBO boasts as the show’s “largest gross audience” thus far.