Alex Gibney’s HBO documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief is already a commercial hit for the network.
Nearly 1.7 million viewers tuned in for the film’s cable debut Sunday night, according to theWrap. The number represents the highest total for an HBO documentary premiere since Spike Lee’s two-part Hurricane Katrina documentary, When The Levees Broke, premiered to 1.75 million viewers in 2006. The Scientology documentary garnered a 0.7 rating in the key 18-49 demo.
The network’s delay in reporting its Sunday ratings is part of a trend of cable networks waiting until DVR and online viewing data comes in before announcing viewer totals, according to the Hollywood Reporter. This allows networks like HBO and FX, which also made the move last year, to better pitch advertisers on total viewership in a time when TV consumers are increasingly turning to non-traditional methods of watching programming.
Going Clear, which outlines allegations of widespread physical and mental abuse within Scientology, has made waves since its premiere at Sundance in January. The Church of Scientology has relentlessly attacked the documentary, while several former Scientologists have issued statements of support for the filmmakers.