HBO has delivered another ratings record thanks to Game of Thrones. The premiere of the season 8 drew in a massive 17.4 million viewers on Sunday according to Entertainment Weekly, calculating the numbers from "multiple airings and including some streaming."
The final season premiere for the fantasy epic boasted an equally epic marketing push in the past few months, marking it as the "biggest telecast" in the network's history and the most-watched scripted entertainment program of the year to this point according to EW. The previous owner was The Big Bang Theory on CBS with 14.7 million viewers in February.
With over 17 million viewers, the show surpassed the previous record for the Season 7 finale back in 2017 at 16.9 million, and also passed the season 7 premiere which stands at 16.1 million.
An interesting side note is that the Season 8 premiere set these numbers without subscribers from Dish network adding to the total. The satellite provider and HBO have been in a dispute since November after a new carriage deal couldn't be agreed upon, forcing the paid-cable network off Dish and its OTT platform Sling TV according to Variety. Dish even pointed customers towards HBO Now prior to Sunday's premiere, telling them to sign up for the service separately.
The record viewership numbers also don't include the streaming numbers from Amazon, Hulu or Roku to this point.
EW also notes that the finale of HBO's beloved prestige drama The Sopranos drew 11.9 million viewers back in 2007, putting the jump into perspective and just how much the network gains from having George R.R. Martin's story on its airwaves.
The show was also a hit on social media, generating around 5 million tweets during its premiere and setting a record from the show. And it was Sam's revelation to Jon Snow about his parents that ended up being the most tweeted about moment from the premiere.
One aspect that EW notes is locked in a grey area is the global numbers related to viewership of the series. A Daily Mail report from the week before the premiere noted it could generate "a billion viewers" around the planet. But EW adds that HBO doesn't even know how many viewers watch the network around the globe thanks to the numerous "methods of distribution."0comments
The outlet also adds that the number would likely be closer to 100 million, pointing out that CBS' NCIS was the "most watched drama in the world" at only 47 million viewers. Game of Thrones reportedly stands at 32 million viewers per episode worldwide, with many likely added heading into the final season.
With only six episodes this season and the series finale looming, will this record only have a short time to bask in the glory? It would seem so. But the show will later have its prequel spinoff to compete with within the next few years.