'Game of Thrones' Premiere Ratings Surge to New Series High — 17.4 Million Viewers

In news that should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, Game of Thrones has done it again. The HBO drama, returning to the air after a nearly two-year break, kicked off its final season on Sunday night with a new record audience.

The pay cabler cites a total 17.4 million viewers tuning in over the course of the night, besting the previous record by half a million viewers. That tally includes 11.8 million viewers watching the first-run telecast, and a 50 percent jump in viewers for the growing streaming platform of HBO Now.

These early numbers mean Game of Thrones may very well wrap its eight-season run on HBO with a consistent run of more viewers every season — with the seventh and most recent totally 32.8 million viewers per episode, once all views were factored in.

The return of Game of Thrones did quite a bit to boost the rest of the HBO's Sunday night lineup, lifting Barry to a series high (2.2 million viewers) and seeing Veep (1.5 million) and Last Week Tonight (1.7 million) clime to night-of highs not seen in well over a year.

Below is a look at Game of Thrones' U.S. audience trajectory over the years.

Season Initial airing viewers (millions) Total viewers* (millions) % of total from initial airing
1 2.52 9.3 27.1%
2 3.8 11.6 32.8%
3 4.7 14.4 32.6%
4 6.84 19.1 35.8%
5 6.88 20.2 34.1%
6 7.69 25.7 29.9%
7 10.26 32.8 31.3%

*Includes replays, DVR and on-demand viewing and streaming. Sources: Nielsen, HBO