The long-awaited return of Game of Thrones proved to be a milestone for HBO, which enjoyed an all-time ratings record. Entertainment Weekly reports the Season 8 premiere drew in more than 17 million viewers across live broadcast and streaming platforms.
This was not only the highest turnout for any HBO show in history, it also scooped the biggest ratings of the year out from under CBS’s The Big Bang Theory, whose recent episodes raked in over 14 million viewers in early February.
Thrones’ last overnight record came during the Season 7 finale in 2017, which achieved 16.9 million. This was most likely due to the fact that the fantasy series has been off the air for two years, satisfying hungry fans who were itching to be back in the world build by George R.R. Martin.
While more low key than other episodes we’ve seen in the past, Season 8’s debut episode gave viewers plenty of reunions that have been a long time coming. It also ended with Jon Snow (played by Kit Harington; fresh off his first dragon ride) learning about his true family history and Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) receiving an awkward welcome back to Winterfell. The table is now set or more appropriately, the game pieces are stacked, so that the action can really get rolling in Episode 2.
As we reported earlier today, the first episode also broke a record on social media, becoming the most tweeted about GoT episode ever with 5 million tweets.
Game of Thrones Season 8 returns next Sunday at 9pm EST.