Female viewers of HBO’s “Girls” might be surprised to learn they are in the minority. Four episodes in, the audience for the freshman dramedy is 60% male.
Using a gross audience metric, the show is averaging 2.7 million male viewers an episode. That’s out of a total of 4.5 million, a number that combines viewing on the network; via DVRs and HBO on Demand; and on mobile platform HBO Go.
Much-discussed “Girls” is about the lives and loves of four 20-something females making their way in New York. So, why such male interest?
It could be exposure (not that kind). The male-skewing (also 60%) “Game of Thrones” is driving so much HBO viewership that males are exposed to “Girls” through on-air promos and other avenues and opting to check it out. “Thrones” episodes debut Sundays at 9 p.m., followed by “Veep” and then “Girls” at 10:30 p.m.
(Men might be watching the promos and setting DVRs at an unusually high rate. Percentage-wise, “Girls” gets a higher lift from DVR-enabled viewing than any other HBO show.)
HBO might gain some insight into the “exposure” theory when “True Blood” premieres on June 10 in the “Game of Thrones” slot. “True Blood” has a 52% female skew, so more females on Sundays could alter the "Girls" audience competition. Then again, "True Blood" has such a larger audience than "Thrones" that more women will be watching HBO anyway.
Another theory could be rooted in the difficult Sunday competition for female viewers. AMC airs “Mad Men” – Jon Hamm! -- opposite “Girls,” while “The Client List” on Lifetime and Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey” could also be grabbing potential viewers. Still, the Sunday debut of “Girls” accounts for a relatively small percentage (20%) of its gross audience.
“Girls” is supposed to offer a more realistic portrayal of the 20-something female plight than other series. There is plenty about twisted and dysfunctional relationships. Could young men actually be watching for insight into the fairer sex? Unlikely. Men aren’t that deep.
HBO executives are perplexed by the male leaning. And encouraged.
“Obviously, we couldn’t be happier with the critical response and buzz the show has received,” HBO spokesman Jeff Cusson said. “The audience make-up is definitely a bit of a surprise, but leaves open great upside as women continue to discover the show.”
“Girls” was swiftly renewed for a second season by HBO. Devising the next launch campaign might take some astronomy with the challenge of continuing to appeal to Mars and landing more of Venus.