Last Week Tonight Sees Huge Ratings For COVID-19 Episode That Was Filmed From John Oliver's Home

The episode featured John Oliver talking about the COVID-19 pandemic, and also lewd images of rats.


Ratings for HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver are surging. The network has confirmed that Oliver's show reached a season-high for viewership for its March 30 episode.

The new episode drew 973,000 viewers on live TV at 11 PM, and a total of 1.2 million by the end of the evening, according to Deadline. That was the highest viewership for the program since the episode that followed the Game of Thrones series finale in May 2019.

Viewership for the episode is expected to grow further. HBO pointed out that the current season of Last Week Tonight is averaging 4.5 million viewers when all platforms are factored in.

The newest episode of the show likely benefitted from pent-up demand, as Oliver and his team skipped the previous week when they moved to a work-from-home setup. This newest episode saw Oliver broadcasting from his home, but largely keeping to the same format as his regular shows.

In the episode, Oliver spoke about what the whole world is talking about right now: COVID-19. He spoke candidly about why it is critically important to stay home and follow the guidance of medical experts.

This episode was produced on a significantly lower budget than previous shows, Oliver said, and this leads into what was the episode's most absurd moment. His team found footage of a '90s art auction featuring the work of Brian Swords, who created paintings showing rats in sexual encounters.

Oliver was so enamored by one of the pieces that he put out a call asking his viewers to find this painting and send it to him in exchange for $1,000. Oliver and his team will also donate $20,000 to COVID-19 relief if the drawing can be found.

Oliver is not the first TV host to film their show from home. Conan O'Brien recently filmed an episode of his show from a room in his house, featuring a virtual interview with Adam Sandler.

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