It’s not exactly breaking news to say that Game of Thrones is popular. That’s like calling Lyanna Mormont “kind of awesome” — it’s a massive understatement. Nearly nine million people watched the season six finale, “The Winds of Winter,” a new ratings record for HBO’s Emmy-nominated epic. But that’s before adding repeat airings, DVR, HBO Go, HBO Now, and HBO on Demand. Put it all together, and you’ve got 25.1 million fans eventually tuning into every episode. That’s five million more than last season.
“These record audiences reflect the options we have built into our business model over the last few years,” bragged Richard Plepler, HBO’s chairman and CEO. “Combining the convenience of HBO On Demand and HBO GO with the subscription flexibility of HBO NOW, our programming is being exposed to an ever growing audience.” Also, people really like “tits and dragons.”
HBO claims that “digital views made up nearly 40% of the audience,” compared to exactly 40% for Silicon Valley (which averaged a series-best 6.7 million viewers across all platforms) and 25% for Veep (4.7 million). That 25.1 million is comparable to ratings for the bazinga-fest that is The Big Bang Theory, which averaged 20 million viewers during the 2015-16 season.
The tragic irony of these numbers being released the same week it was confirmed that season seven — a delayed season seven, at that — will only be seven episodes long was not lost anyone at HBO.