In a surprise to mostly no one, Game of Thrones hit a record ratings high with its Season 7 finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf.” Per THR, the episode scored an all-time high of 16.5 million viewers via live tune-in and night-of streams, which itself broke the series’ previous record that was set just two weeks earlier, which hit 10.7 million viewers. Indeed, this show just keeps getting bigger, as the Season 7 finale had a 36% gain over the Season 6 finale, which scored 8.9 million viewers. And all of this while Season 7 was plagued by leaked episodes and scripts—regardless of the piracy, a vast majority of people still watched the show on Sunday nights.
Game of Thrones is now officially the biggest show on TV, as its Season 7 ratings surpassed those of regular cable hit The Walking Dead, which has seen sharp decline in viewership in its seventh season and scored 11.31 million viewers for its most recent season finale. That’s a phenomenal feat, as HBO is a premium pay cable channel and thus has a far more limited range of viewership. And yet, folks ponied up the cash to either subscribe to HBO proper or score an HBO Now or HBO Go streaming subscription.
All in all, the abbreviated seventh season of Game of Thrones averaged a jaw-dropping 31 million viewers per episode when factoring in live, time-shifted, on-demand, and streaming plays. This is the biggest show in HBO’s history, and it’s hard to imagine anything topping it anytime soon. The network had success in the past with series like The Sopranos, but that show topped out with a series high 13.43 million viewers. Game of Thrones has already surpassed that record and we’re not even into the final season yet.
So now you see it’s no surprise that HBO went public with its plans to produce one (or more) Game of Thrones spinoffs or prequel series. This is a franchise for the network, and although showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss may be done with their story, HBO is working to find ways to extend its life far beyond the conclusion we’ll see in Season 8.
Speaking of, it’s possible the next season won’t even debut until 2019 due to the size and scope of the final six episodes, so savor what we got this past Sunday—it could be a very long wait.