(Updated with HBO digital viewing data & Veep finale numbers) Game of Thrones burned down all competition and its own ratings records with the series’ penultimate episode Sunday. Flying fast toward its May 19 series finale, the blockbuster hit an all-time viewership high for itself and HBO with the battle-thick “The Bells.”
Snagging a linear audience of 12.5 million, the second-to-last episode of the eighth and final season of series executive produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss rose 6% in viewership from last week’s episode “The Last of the Starks.” Topping Sunday night on cable and broadcast, that 12.5 million is also the best any HBO show has done — ever.
Compared to the previous viewership high of the 12.2 million who watched GoT’s April 28-airing “The Long Night” episode, the dark and bloody battle of Winterfell that ended with the death of the Night King, “The Bells” bopped up 2.3%
In the 18-49 demographic, which isn’t really that important to the subscriber-based premium cabler, the fifth episode of the final GoT season scored a 5.4 rating.
Up 7% from “The Last of the Starks,” the rating for the Miguel Sapochnik’s directed “The Bells” is the second-best demo result ever for GoT, topped only by the 5.7 that the August 27, 2017 Season 7 finale “The Dragon and the Wolf.”
As good as those viewership numbers look right, they shine further when digital data is added. Early numbers from HBO GO and HBO Now as well as further airings have put the viewership of “The Bells” went up to 18.4 million – a record unto itself.
In a six-episode final season that has seen the top four linear results ever for Game of Thrones, already the digital numbers have rolled out significant overall increases, indicative of how the small screen is actually being watched in 2019.
Speaking of what people are watching, the series finale of Emmy winning comedy Veep on Sunday was a high of itself, and we don’t just mean the bawdy zingers. TheJulia Louis-Dreyfus series hit a Season 7 high with the 1.1 million who watched the end of Selina Meyer’s reign of error. HBO streaming services numbers and a first repeat on the premium cabler brought that up to 1.6 million, a expanded viewing season high too.
The all-time Veep high, at least in linear viewing, is and will remain the series debut on April 22, 2012. “Fundraiser” drew 1.4 million viewers.
As we await the series ender of Game of Thrones, catch up on who is still alive, who is dead and who is about to have a serious problem here.