HBO has just released its audience stats for the premiere of Game of Thrones season 8, which the network says drew a record 17.4 million viewers Sunday night — beating both the 16.1 million viewers who caught the season 7 premiere and the 16.9 million who tuned in for last season’s finale.
The trend when it comes to HBO’s landmark fantasy series has been for viewership figures to basically go in one direction from one season to the next — up and to the right — and it seems that trend is definitely going to hold true as the series prepares to take its bow after only five more episodes.
Underscoring the intensity of fandom around the show, which had been on a nearly two-year break from the air, Sunday night’s audience total included 11.8 million viewers who watched live on TV, according to HBO, with another 50% of the overall audience streaming the premiere via HBO Now. For some context around how much the audience for the series has grown each season, a rundown of HBO’s official figures (via The Wrap) shows the following.
Counting HBO Go and HBO Now viewership and extending to 30 days after each season finale, this has been the US viewership for each season of the show:
- Season 1: 9.3 million
- Season 2: 11.6 million
- Season 3: 14.4 million
- Season 4: 19.1 million
- Season 5: 20.2 million
- Season 6: 25.7 million
- Season 7: 32.8 million
The fantasy series about the fictional land of Westeros and its warring kingdoms appears to also be something of a rising tide that lifts all of HBO’s boats. Per a report Monday from The Hollywood Reporter, the return of Game of Thrones also helped Barry, Bill Hader’s dark comedy about a serial killer, hit a series record of 2.2 million viewers. Likewise, Veep and Last Week Tonight both hit high audience numbers — 1.5 million and 1.7 million, respectively — that they haven’t reached for more than a year before now.
About the GoT premiere, meanwhile, its impressive audience numbers are all the more noteworthy, given that in our view the lead-off episode for the show’s much-anticipated final season had a bit more exposition and less action than we would have liked to see. That will hopefully be rectified in short order as the stakes begin to rise considerably in episode 2, and beyond.