Winter arrived in July with the seventh-season premiere of Game of Thrones, but there's nothing cold about the HBO series' viewership. Coming back from the longest hiatus in its history, the drama nabbed a series high showing for a first-run telecast with an average 10.1 million viewers.
What's more, initial views from streaming have the tally growing to 16.1 million viewers, shattering any previous one-day record for the show.
Game of Thrones' ratings have risen steadily and dramatically since it debuted in 2011. The linear premiere of the first episode averaged 2.22 million viewers, with subsequent first-run live premiere airings on the network growing until leveling out at the roughly 8 million viewers who tuned in to both the fifth- and sixth-season premieres. (This latest premiere marks a 27 percent spike from the most recent one.)
Prior to Sunday, live-plus-same-day telecasts for Game of Thrones had maxed out at 8.9 million viewers — the tally for the sixth-season finale, the most recent episode prior to Sunday.
But those numbers still only tell a fraction of the story. More and more of HBO's audience, particularly that tuning in for its original series, is watching on streaming platforms HBO Go and HBO Now. (Just this month, the network even joined Hulu as an add-on service.) Adding those numbers, alongside standard live-plus-3 and live-plus-7 views and encore plays on various HBO channels, gave the recent sixth season of Game of Thrones an average 25.7 million viewers.
In 2014, Game of Thrones officially surpassed The Sopranos as the most-watched series in HBO history. The seventh season will be shorter than the previous six, running seven episodes through Aug. 27.