“Game of Thrones” broke its own viewership records four times in a single season

Can it keep it up?
Can it keep it up?
Image: HBO
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Games of Thrones can’t stop setting records.

The season finale of the seventh season of the flagship HBO series was watched by a record 12.1 million US viewers on Sunday night, Nielsen estimates. That’s the fourth time Game of Thrones has topped itself this season—and it was only seven episodes long. The season premiered in July with a series high of 10.1 million live- and same-day viewers, which it surpassed with the fourth episode, and again with the fifth episode that reached 10.7 million viewers.

That sets a high bar for the premiere of the final season of the beloved show, which does not yet have a release date. Nearly every Game of Thrones season premiere has topped the prior season’s finale, with the exception of season six.

This was all in spite of hacks and leaks that threatened to undermine the shows ratings in order to get HBO to pay out a weighty ransom for its remaining stolen data, full episodes of the latest season airing early in some regions, and widespread piracy.

Yet, its TV ratings prevailed. HBO said the first six episodes of the season had a staggering 30.6 million viewers per episode across all platforms, such as streaming, DVR, on-demand, and on-air replays—a 31% boost over the sixth season’s 23.3 million average.

The finale’s cross-platform viewership has not yet been released. With night-of streams on HBO Go and HBO Now, the season-seven finale was watched by 16.5 million people, according to HBO. That’s a slight increase over the premiere’s 16.1 million night-of viewers.

Game of Thrones wasn’t just the most-watched show on HBO. It regularly ranked as one of the most-watched shows weekly across cable and broadcast TV, which have a wider footprint than HBO. The premium-cable network had about 34 million subscribers in the US, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence’s groups, Kagan. And there were about 120 million TV homes in the US, by Nielsen’s latest estimates.