According to Variety, just those fans who watched the series come to an end live on HBO clocked in at a total of 13.6 million. That’s 200,000 more people that the previous record-holder for HBO’s biggest episode, the Season 4 premiere of The Sopranos back in 2002.
If you include those who streamed on HBO Go or HBO Now, the Season 8 finale totalled 19.3 million viewers, beating out the penultimate episode’s record by almost a million people. These numbers don’t really compete with network television finales since HBO is a premium cable service and Game of Thrones is a still a little more niche than something like Dallas.
To put that in perspective, it had more viewers than The Big Bang Theory, a show that frequently tops the weekly ratings — and people don’t have to pay extra for that. It’s about as much as this year’s College Football Playoff National Championship or the Grammys.
That's a huge step for HBO and a lot to live up to for any prequel show set in the same universe. How can something with no basis in George R.R. Martin’s books stack up against this record-setter? Only time will tell, just like time will tell if this particular viewership record will hold... or if a new contender, like Westworld's third season, will take the throne for itself.