Sunday’s epic, supersized (and dimly lit) installment of Game of Thrones just missed setting a Nielsen ratings record — but nobody at HBO is complaining. An estimated 12.017 million viewers watched the 9 p.m. broadcast in real time Sunday, according to the ratings giant, a mere 50,000 viewers shy of the 12.072 million who tuned in for the season-seven finale back in August 2017. But in the broader (and more accurate) sample of Nielsen numbers and HBO’s internal data for its streaming platforms, the “Battle of Winterfell” episode totally Arya’d the show’s previous audience record: The network says 17.8 million so far have watched Sunday’s 82-minute episode, including viewers who watched a Sunday encore on HBO or who (legally) streamed it. That’s 400,000 viewers ahead of the season premiere earlier this month, which amassed 17.4 million cumulative viewers within a day or so of broadcast.
But the true headline number released by HBO Tuesday may be 38 million. That’s how many viewers the network says have watched the April 14 GOT season premiere since it dropped two weeks ago, counting multiple runs on various HBO linear and streaming platforms, as well as DVR replays. This means more people (just shy of 21 million viewers) watched the premiere in the days after it aired than within that first 24 hours of its broadcast (the aforementioned 17.4 million figure). Given how the audience for the season seems to be going up as the series finale approaches, GOT is on track to obliterate its season-seven cumulative average audience of 32.8 million viewers and finish its run with an overall audience in the 40 million viewer range. Yeah, there’s no way HBO isn’t green-lighting that prequel pilot to series.
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