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The penultimate episode of The Last of Us drew the show’s largest first-night audience so far — and the season as a whole is nearing House of the Dragon territory in the ratings.
Sunday’s episode, titled “When We Are in Need,” delivered 8.1 million viewers across all platforms, according to HBO. That’s a high for The Last of Us so far and a 74 percent improvement over the 4.7 million who watched the series premiere on Jan. 15.
HBO also says the first five episodes are “approaching” an average of 30 million viewers, which if that holds through the remainder of the season would put The Last of Us ahead of the 29 million who watched the first season of Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon during its run.
Sunday’s on-air audience was 1.04 million viewers, just shy of the previous week’s season high of 1.08 million. On-air ratings climbed steadily over the show’s first four weeks, and after a dip for episode five opposite the Super Bowl (which streamed two days early on HBO Max), they ramped back up again and topped 1 million for the first time on Feb. 26. The 1.04 million viewers who watched at 9 p.m. on HBO represents about 13 percent of the total; the rest came from HBO Max and on-air replays later in the night.
HBO quickly renewed The Last of Us, based on the video game franchise and co-created by game developer Neil Druckmann, for a second season following its strong start to the season. The season finale is set to air on March 12.
Elsewhere Sunday, ABC’s American Idol recorded its biggest same-day audience of the season with 5.62 million viewers — good for third in primetime behind CBS’ 60 Minutes (6.93 million) and The Equalizer (6.23 million) — and led the evening among adults 18-49 with a 0.72 rating (tied with an NBA-assisted America’s Funniest Home Videos).
March 7, 9:15 a.m. Updated with final Sunday ratings.
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