We knew that the Game of Thrones season 7 finale could set some viewership records for HBO. Yet, it was hardly a guarantee this weekend for a wide array of different reasons. For one, the finale (entitled “The Dragon and the Wolf”) was airing against the MTV Video Music Awards, which are routinely the network’s biggest draw of the year. Beyond that, there were also many viewers in Houston who understandably were dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and all of the horrific flooding going on there.
In the end, the season 7 finale still managed to blow all other episodes out of the water, drawing in total a whopping 12.1 million viewers. This number balloons outward to 16.5 million when you include the repeats and streams for the night. Remember that previously, the season 6 finale drew 8.9 million viewers, and at the time that was considered a huge, insurmountable number for a subscription network like HBO.
One of the reasons why HBO is likely seeing this sort of strong year-to-year growth is probably just because Game of Thrones has set up its endgame plan, and that signals to new viewers that there is a reason to join the metaphorical party and get on board with catching up. It’s harder for a show to continue to build an audience when the average viewer remains clueless as to when the end product is going to air. Few people in 2017, an era where there are a million different television shows coming on the air, want to sign up for a never-ending commitment. That’s why we think it benefits a show like The Walking Dead to come out and announce when its final season is going to air. This is also something that we believe helped Breaking Bad post tremendous ratings gains when its final season came on the air.
Now, the waiting begins for said final season, which could air in late 2019 or presumably even later. (We discuss some of those options at the moment over at the link here.)
Will the final season set more ratings records?
You have to imagine so, given that the finale already had a great deal of competition. Presumably, HBO should be able to withstand anything else that is thrown at it. The final season is only six episodes, and that’s not much of a commitment at all for its viewers. It’s also such that subscribers will only have to sign up for the network for two months in order to see the entire batch. That’s not a huge financial commitment, and given the quality of the show, it’ll be seen as a worthwhile investment.
Beyond that, we just figure that the powers-that-be at the network are already formulating some of their spin-off plans. We know that there are many in development, but we figure probably the moment the final season gets on the air they’ll start to determine more of the stories that they want to tell in the future. As we’ve reported in the past, the plans for the series’ future include going back more into the past.
What do you think about the Game of Thrones season 7 finale ratings? Share in the comments. (Photo: HBO.)