HBO’s hit epic fantasy series, Game of Thrones, is a juggernaut, there is no denying that. And, for those who thought that the extra long wait between Season 7 and the final season would deter viewers from tuning in, guess again.
According to Forbes, HBO’s Game of Thrones can now officially be considered the biggest network series. This is based on the viewership ratings on the night that the Season 8 premiere episode aired, Sunday, April 14. While the cable ratings were actually down a little from the Season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones, once other platforms such as HBO Now and HBO Go were factored in, it was discovered that 17.4 million viewers tuned in to find out more about the goings-on in Westeros.
Initial ratings from just the cable viewership saw only 11.78 million viewers from the U.S. tuning in. Whereas, the Season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones recorded 12.07 million viewers. This initial number was to be expected considering normal statistical evidence for viewership on TV series shows a decline over each subsequent season. However, with the other figures calculated, it showed that not only did Game of Thrones have a stellar viewership rating, it also bucked the trend by having Episode 1 of Season 8 rate as the largest viewed episode in the show’s history. Previously, that title had gone to the Season 7 finale episode, with 16.9 million viewers tuning in.
This ratings figure isn’t even considered to be the final viewership number. It is likely that this number will grow substantially over the week as people tune in after the event to catch up on what went down between Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) as she visited the North and Jon Snow’s home of Winterfell. Forbes predicts the viewership rating will top the Season 7 finale episode over the course of the first week. Which means that it is likely that more than 32.8 million viewers will watch over the seven days after the release of the Season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones.
In addition, so far during the course of seven seasons, the series has always managed to garner more viewers in the finale episode rather than the premiere episode for each season.
As for whether or not this trend will continue remains to be seen. However, considering the audience feedback so far on social media regarding Episode 1 of Game of Thrones‘ final season, it seems within reason that most of the audience will return for Episode 2 at least.
Season 2 of Game of Thrones returns to HBO with Episode 2 on Sunday, April 21, at 9 p.m. ET.