If you didn’t tune in for Sunday’s triumphant return of Game of Thrones on HBO, then you’re a member of a rather small group. The season eight premiere for the hugely popular fantasy series managed to score some record-breaking ratings, according to Deadline, but this shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, nearly two years have passed since the intersecting tales of Westeros have graced HBO subscribers with a new episode. Plus, it’s the final season of the show, so yeah — a lot of people were tuning in to watch.
The previous record for Game of Thrones total viewing numbers was set by “The Dragon and the Wolf,” the final episode of season seven. That’s when, among other things, the true nature of Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) parentage was revealed — not to mention its implications for his relationship with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). 12.07 million people tuned in to watch that broadcast, while another 4.4 million caught up with it after the fact. This resulted in a total viewership of 16.5 million.
Sunday’s season eight premiere, “Winterfell,” surpassed with 17.4 million views from both on-air and streaming sources. It also stormed through the previous highest-rated Game of Thrones opener, “Dragonstone,” which got the ball rolling for season seven way back on July 16th, 2017 with 10.11 million in total views. So, it’s no wonder that people were ready to watch Game of Thrones on Sunday night when it aired, or later that night or the next morning on streaming.