SPOILER ALERT: This article contains details of Sunday’s Game of Thrones series finale.
It must be both a good day and a sad day at HBO now that the final numbers are in for the series finale of Game of Thrones.
Good because the viewership for last night’s episode — “The Iron Throne,” written and directed by David Benioff and D.B Weiss — has broken a record for the now-completed series as well as HBO. Sad because, well, let’s be honest, with all the potential prequels and spinoffs HBO has in the pipeline, it’s going to be hard to come up with GoT-sized numbers anytime soon.
As Bran Stark takes over as the new ruler of what is now the Six Kingdoms, the Game of Thrones-sized viewership numbers are fire-spewing-dragon big: 19.3 million to be exact.
Which means, across linear viewing plus HBO Go and HBO Now, the 82-minute long sixth episode of the eighth and final season of the series based on George R.R. Martin’s writings was up over the previous combined high of last week’s “The Bells” by 4.9%.
The number reps a finale high too in a season that despite leaks galore now has five of the most watched GoTs ever; Sunday’s series ender topped the once mighty conclusion of Season 7 by 14.2%.
In just linear viewing, the 9 PM ET-starting “The Iron Throne” snagged 13.6 million sets of eyeballs (and I don’t mean that in a The Mountain kind of way). Put in perspective and with the ongoing quarrel that has HBO off Dish Network right now, that’s 9% better than the death-from-above-fueled penultimate episode of May 12.
It also tops the HBO single-episode record of 13.4 million that the Season 4 opener of The Sopranos pulled off 17 years ago.
In this diluted Peak TV era, obviously a finale on premium cable isn’t going to be a kingslayer compared with what series ender champion M.A.S.H. had in 1983 with its 106 million viewers. Yet, compared to the 18.5 million who tuned in to CBS on May 16 for the series finale of The Big Bang Theory, Game of Thrones did pretty well last night all things considered (broadcast apples to premium cable oranges, pretty well indeed).
With long-tail streaming and more, HBO has pegged the last season of GoT as averaging around 44.2 million viewers domestically per episode, up around 10 million from 2017’s Season 7 average. The final numbers for the Season 8 average clearly aren’t in yet, but here’s how Game of Thrones’ final and most watched season did so far over its six-episode run:
Episode 1: April 14 “Winterfell” – 17.4 million
Episode 2: April 21 “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” – 15.9 million
Episode 3: April 28 “The Long Night” – 17.8 million
Episode 4: May 5 “The Last of the Starks” – 17.2 million
Episode 5: May 12 “The Bells” – 18.4 million
Episode 6: May 19 “The Iron Throne” – 19.3 million