Rick and Morty’s third season is officially the biggest and most-watched in Adult Swim history, the network confirmed today.
The most impressive stat Adult Swim released, however, had nothing to do with the third season and its most recent finale. The network confirmed that more than 11 million people on April Fools’ tuned into a surprise livestream of the show’s season three premiere. More than three million unique visitors watching the livestream on Adult Swim’s official website and 8.7 million people watched on Facebook. That was the same weekend that creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon surprised fans with the announcement that the long awaited season three premiere would be available to stream for 48 hours.
When Harmon and Roiland first made the announcement on Twitter, fans were expecting another prank from the duo. In the 18-month buildup to Rick and Morty’s third season at the time, Adult Swim had launched a number of trolling videos and announcements, teasing anxious fans. In February, fans who clicked on an Adult Swim video on YouTube anticipating a scene from the third season were greeted to a Rickrolling meme.
After the livestream ended, Adult Swim took the episode off of its page, and didn’t air it again until Rick and Morty’s actual premiere on July 30. Still, those who had managed to rip the video from Adult Swim’s website and Facebook made it available on Vimeo, Daily Motion and YouTube. Adult Swim became the target of illegally uploaded versions of the episode leading up to the season three premiere, but the network didn’t take action against the channels hosting the videos. As the third season progressed, one-use channels began popping up on YouTube carrying 24/7 livestreams of Rick and Morty’s third season.
Adult Swim livestreamed the first three episodes upon the show’s return. When the fourth episode rolled around, fans were upset when they were greeted by actors poorly acting out the episode instead of the actual episode itself. Adult Swim confirmed to Polygon that it would not be offering livestreams for the rest of the season. The night of Rick and Morty’s season three premiere, the network tweeted out a surprise announcement confirming the finale would be livestreamed at the same time the episode aired on cable television.
Rick and Morty’s third season was the most-watched comedy among adults between 18-24 years old, according to the latest Nielsen survey. The 10-episode season was the best reviewed and most-watched of any series on the network, according to an Adult Swim representative.
Adult Swim hasn’t renewed Rick and Morty for a fourth season, but it seems inevitable at this juncture. Harmon told Entertainment Weekly the show would be returning, but no official announcement has been made. Polygon has reached out for more information about when a renewal announcement can be expected. If Rick and Morty is renewed for a fourth season, don’t expect the show to return right away. It was almost two years between the second season ending and the third season premiering.