The most ubiquitous show on television is getting bigger by the episode in its final season, breaking its all-time viewership record for the second time in just its past three episodes. Sunday’s Game of Thrones, the epic battle that was “The Long Night,” was the most-viewed episode in the blockbuster HBO series’ history, reeling in a whopping 17.8 million viewers, the network announced Tuesday. Meanwhile, only three or four of those people could actually see it.
The episode’s gross audience total includes two linear airings from Sunday night, as well as HBO Now and HBO Go streaming numbers, but the initial 9 p.m. airing of the episode amassed 12 million viewers on its own, a season-high time period broadcast that was almost certainly assisted by the fear of spoilers surrounding the Battle of Winterfell—specifically, who was going to survive it and who wasn’t. That same sort of pop-culture FOMO had a hand in Avengers: Endgame’s historic opening weekend, as well, practically requiring viewers to rush to find out who lived and died before their social circles (or social media) could spoil the surprise.
The viewing record broken by “The Long Night” was only two weeks old, as we previously alluded to: Season eight premiere episode “Winterfell” drew a then-record-setting 17.4 million viewers. (What, no love for “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” America?) Said premiere episode has now surpassed 38 million viewers, HBO notes, demonstrating some serious legs since it first aired on April 14. Surely the rest of season eight will follow suit.
Not to be overlooked in all this, though it will be, is HBO’s quietly stellar, Bill Hader-starring dark comedy Barry, which set a series record of its own with over 2 million viewers on Sunday night (and 2.5 million with streaming factored in). We can only hope those folks were watching with rapt attention, as opposed to just staring slack-jawed into space with the TV still on while coming down from a “The Long Night”-induced anxiety attack. (For the record, Barry topped Game of Thrones in Paste’s TV power rankings for the week, so let’s give credit where it’s due.)
Game of Thrones’ final season crosses its halfway mark this upcoming Sunday, May 5, with its near-feature-length, not-yet-titled fourth episode airing on HBO at 9 p.m. ET, followed by Barry around 10:30 p.m. ET. Revisit our review of “The Long Night” right here and go inside the making of the epic episode here.