Sandy Honig / Courtesy: Serial
What did the producers and hosts of Serial expect when the long-awaited third season of the hit podcast dropped last week? Probably not the biggest debut in the show's history.
To be fair, no one knew what Serial was when it launched, so it's hard to judge in-the-moment stats from season one (the first episode was only downloaded 86,000 times on the first day). But after its headline-making trek through the true-crime case of Adnan Syed, season two, tackling the Bowe Bergdahl story, was highly anticipated. The first-day downloads of the first episode came in at 1.34 million. The first day of the second episode, only 1.24 million came back.
Season three, as you know by now, is set in Cleveland and focuses on a handful of cases large and small in the Cuyahoga County criminal justice system. (They're great, by the way.) And they've set new high marks for Sarah Koenig and crew. Episode 1 was downloaded 1.46 million times on the first day; that number was 1.43 million on the first day for episode 2.
“One of the things that’s stressed me out about Serial the last few years has been audience expectation. That we’re supposed to be true-crime, or just one deep investigative story, or some other easy descriptor," Serial co-creator and executive producer Julie Snyder told Vulture
. "So to come out this season and say, Instead we’re gonna do a bunch of stories from Cleveland! Well … we were admittedly a bit nervous before the release. So these launch numbers — and the response to the episodes in just the first few days — have been so gratifying. Because we really believe these stories are important. The world is crazy now and there are so many podcasts and there’s such wonderful journalism being produced … it’s heartening that people are excited for us to keep going.”
Episode 3 comes out tomorrow. We'll have a recap up sometime in the morning.