'The Lion and the Wolf' shatters 'Game of Thrones' viewership record

Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan/HBO

The season 7 finale for HBO’s Game of Thrones was more than just the most-talked-about episode of television in a while. It was also the most-watched episode so far of one of the most popular series of all time.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sunday’s episode, The Dragon and the Wolf, was watched by 16.5 million viewers live, a new record for live audience and night-of streams for the series. As the data for On Demand, HBO Go, and HBO Now streams is accounted for, the episode’s viewer numbers will likely increase significantly, as the show has reportedly been averaging more than 31 million viewers per episode after all of the On Demand and streaming views are accounted for — typically weeks after each episode’s premiere.

Prior to the season 7 finale, the most-watched episode of the series had been August 13’s Eastwatch, which was watched by 10.7 million viewers live and on the night of its premiere. This season’s finale also doubled the viewership of the season 6 finale, which attracted 8.9 million viewers on its premiere night.

Nearly every season of Game of Thrones has broken records during the show’s wildly successful run. Back in June 2014, Game of Thrones officially passed The Sopranos to become HBO’s most popular series of all time when its per-episode audience crossed the 18.4 million mark, eclipsing the previous high mark of 18.2 million viewers per episode set by The Sopranos.

Given the show’s fast-rising viewer numbers, it will be interesting to see how the network handles the series’ upcoming, final season, which has yet to receive an official premiere date. The just-concluded, penultimate season played out over just seven episodes instead of the usual 10-episode arc, and the network is rumored to be considering an even more abbreviated run for season 8, with feature-length episodes. The season is expected to premiere in either late 2018 or even as far out as 2019, meaning fans could have more than 16 months to wait for the series to continue.

Game of Thrones is based on George R.R. Martin’s series of novels, collectively known as A Song of Ice and Fire, and has received 110 Primetime Emmy Award nominations over the course of its first six seasons and won 38 Emmys up to this point.