tv ratings

The Game of Thrones Season 8 Premiere Broke Yet Another HBO Record

Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO

You could have guessed, but now it’s official: The ratings for the Game of Thrones season-eight premiere were massive. According to HBO, a total of 17.4 million viewers across platforms (on actual TV and via the network’s streaming hubs) watched “Winterfell” on Sunday night, which includes 11.8 million people who watched it the old-fashioned way in its 9 p.m. time slot. (Impressive, but that linear viewing total still comes in just behind the season-seven finale, which drew 12.1 million viewers when it aired in 2017 — a discrepancy HBO believes is linked to a dispute with Dish Network, whose subscribers don’t have access to the network’s linear channel.) That combined total exceeds the previous overnight high mark of 16.1 million viewers set by the seventh season closer, “The Dragon and the Wolf.”

But those are just the Sunday figures. The previous season of Thrones, a whole lifetime ago in 2017, ended up averaging 32.8 million viewers per episode, based on HBO’s cumulative data tabulations. That number is a combination of same-day viewership as measured by Nielsen, DVR replays, additional tune-in via the network’s multiple cable channels, cable-on-demand views, and online streams through HBO Go and HBO Now. As Vulture reported at the time of season seven’s finale, Thrones jumped from a cumulative audience of 14.4 million viewers in 2013 to nearly 33 million in just four years. Based on the returns for last night’s premiere, in the show’s much-obsessed-about final slate of episodes, the network expects “viewership will grow considerably over the run of season eight.”

Game of Thrones Premiere Set a New HBO Record