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'Game of Thrones' season 6 gets boost from streaming to new viewership highs

Game of Thrones characters may drop like flies every week, but the HBO fantasy drama series’ audience just keeps growing. Over the course of season 6, the show has averaged 23.3 million viewers across platforms, USA Today reports. The number marks a 15 percent increase from season 5, a new high helped along by a surge in HBO Now and HBO Go use.

Viewership is up all around, but the increase in TV and on-demand audiences pales in comparison to digital streaming platforms. The number of viewers using HBO Now and HBO Go has risen sharply since last year, leading to 2.5 million streams on average each week, an increase of 70 percent. A big reason for this is the fact that HBO Now has been building its user base — with the help of Game of Thrones — since it launched in April 2015.

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HBO Now users are still hugely outnumbered by the network’s 33 million subscribers. In February, HBO CEO Richard Plepler revealed that the service had yet to hit 1 million users, but he was optimistic about its future — and rightly so. Leading up to the premiere of Game of Thrones season 6, the app’s downloads reportedly surged as people clamored to be able to watch the hit series.

Not surprisingly, Game of Thrones isn’t HBO’s only show to increase its audience this season with the help of digital platforms. Veep‘s digital viewership shot up by 40 percent, while that of Silicon Valley climbed by 37 percent compared to last year. At the same time, TV ratings for grew by 1 percent and fell by 4 percent, respectively.

HBO has tried to reassure broadband providers that offering its stand-alone streaming service won’t cut into their subscriber base, so the new data could help the network make its case. With streaming climbing without major dips in TV viewership, providers may be more convinced that they want a share of HBO’s revenue.