The Season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones almost set a new record when it came to live television viewers, proving that an offseason of hype did indeed pay off. Even better news for the producers of Game of Thrones is that the brand-new episode did, indeed, shatter previous records when factoring in live streaming and on-demand viewing using applications like HBO Go and HBO Now. All told, the Season 6 premiere roped in more than 10.7 million viewers, which is more than 400,000 over the previous record.
While there has been very little doubt Game of Thrones was a wildly popular program, it appears the series is only gaining steam, even as some believe it might be winding down as far as the number of seasons left. GoT fans point to there not yet being a new book on the horizon as the reason Game of Thrones could be coming to an end in the next couple of seasons. Critics, too, have seen what’s happened when shows like The Walking Dead stray away from the previously-written material. Those episodes have come under fire for less than innovative writing.
If Game of Thrones has started its home stretch, it has quite a few storylines it will need to tie up, which is one of the likely reasons so many people wanted to check out the Season 6 premiere. As the Hollywood Reporter points out, these numbers are just preliminary, which means this season premiere of Game of Thrones might be even better once HBO releases the official tally. That won’t happen for several weeks, as the network refuses to talk numbers until it gets its live-plus-seven-day returns.
Those later numbers take replays on the mobile and laptop applications, as well as repeated airings on the stable of networks HBO airs. When taking these figures into account, the number of viewers was able to average more than 20 million over the course of Season 5. By comparison, the numbers we’re talking about today saw about 8.11 million same-day viewers on the television and a total of 10.3 million initial gross viewers watch the Season 5 finale of Game of Thrones.
If there was a piece of bad news for HBO, it doesn’t appear the record viewership for Game of Thrones carried over to its other Sunday night shows. According to Variety, Silicon Valley opened its third season to about 1.87 million “live plus same day” viewers. That number was above the show’s average for last season, but fell short of Season 2’s premiere and finale. Game of Thrones also dwarfed the number of viewers for Veep‘s premiere. The comedy series, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, managed to pull in decent viewership when compared to other airings of that series, but its roughly 1.1 million draw was a far cry from what Melisandre and the rest of the Game of Thrones characters were able to draw.
The big question now will be whether or not Game of Thrones can hold onto such as massive audience. While the episode carried on a number of different storylines, including one interesting reveal, it didn’t come close to showing us how any of those story lines might eventually resolve. Some critics had been negative on just how interesting the Game of Thrones Season 6 premiere was. There is bound to be a fall from Episode 1 to Episode 2, but the show’s producers are likely hoping the drop isn’t going to be particularly steep. Even if there is a drop, the Game of Thrones Season 6 start continues a run of increase in viewers from one season’s start to the next, and that’s a streak the show can hang its hat on.
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