We don’t think anyone is going to be surprised by this, but the Game of Thrones season 8 premiere ratings are in and they are every bit as massive as most people out there expected. Not only that, but they also managed to set some records despite some important caveats.
Last night’s new episode on HBO, including repeat viewing and some HBO NOW / HBO GO numbers, ended up drawing 17.4 million viewers overall. That puts it a tick above the season 7 finale in the summer of 2017, and the number may have been even higher were it not for an ongoing Dish and HBO carriage dispute that has left those customers without an opportunity to check out the show on their service. (Dish’s customer service folks are now pushing customers to subscribe to HBO NOW instead, which suggests to us that there’s no clear end in sight for this. Because customers in rural areas without stable broadband aren’t really able to use HBO NOW, this isn’t exactly a perfect solution.) There are also viewers streaming via some other services, and those numbers are not counted in some of the initial estimates. HBO could have a more accurate assessment of their episode 1 ratings later in the week.
More than likely, we are going to see the ratings rise for some of the final episodes of this season, especially as the tension builds and more positive reviews come in about the final chapter of this epic saga. Game of Thrones has been from the start the gift that keeps on giving for the network — while we’re sure that they had big dreams for what this show could be back before season 1, we’re not sure they ever imagined that it would be so important and a part of the pop-culture lexicon. It was a TV event last night that we haven’t really seen since the Oscars, both in terms of its reach and also its impact on people who were not even watching.
For the record, this viewership makes Game of Thrones the most-watched scripted program of the year so far, and the only show that we think may have a chance of beating it is the series finale of The Big Bang Theory on CBS, provided a number of old viewers from the past several years come back in order to see precisely how it ends. Sitcoms are generally able to draw big viewer numbers for their finales because it’s such a small commitment — plus, there are a lot of viewers who are just watching via syndication/streaming and don’t really see that much of the show when it’s actually on CBS. We’ll see precisely how many people end up coming out for the show when it’s actually on the air.
Want to preview more of what’s coming up on Game of Thrones?
Then we suggest that you head over to the link here right now! Meanwhile, be sure to also share some of your first reactions to the Game of Thrones premiere ratings right now in the comments. (Photo: HBO.)