Sunday was a matchup between Music’s Biggest Night and HBO’s biggest show. Both performed well: the Grammys brought in 12.4 million total viewers, the largest audience for the ceremony since 2020, while episode four of The Last of Us was seen by 7.5 million viewers, up 17 percent from the 6.4 million that tuned in for episode three.
It’s the third week in a row with rising night-of ratings: from 4.7 million for the series premiere to 5.7 million (episode two) to 6.4 million (episode three) to 7.5 million (episode four). The numbers are even higher than they appear; The Last of Us (which will premiere on Friday this week to avoid the Super Bowl) is averaging more than 20 million viewers when you factor in those who streamed it the week after it aired.
Additionally of note is that The Last of Us is on more rapidly inclining trajectory than House of the Dragon, which is HBO’s most recent comparable series in terms of viewership. Though “House of the Dragon” premiered with almost 10 million viewers and “The Last of Us” has yet to reach that point, it’s notable that the cable viewership of “House of the Dragon” dropped significantly by its third episode before steadying out for the rest of its run.
House of the Dragon had a higher high, but The Last of Us is gaining viewers whereas the Game of Thrones prequel slipped from week to week. Just wait until late March when Succession trounces both with Seinfeld finale-level numbers (I hope).