Game of Thrones viewership in graphs: How the show went from nothing to global phenomenon
While HBO’s Game of Thrones is one of the most-watched shows on TV right now, it wasn’t always like that. In 2011, an adaptation of a moderately popular fantasy novel which itself was 15 years old at that point, premiered to strong, but unspectacular numbers.
But a steady performance and strong reviews (not to mention HBO’s heavy investment) prompted a renewal. The show that premiered with 2.2 million US viewers in 2011 recently crossed 10.7 million viewers for the fifth episode of its seventh season - a record.
After the season 7 finale, which, like most season finales before it, is expected to attract record-breaking numbers, take a look a the evolution of Game of Thrones through its viewership.
Curiously, numbers for every season seem to shoot up around the mid-way point - traditionally the most uneventful episodes in each season. This jump can be noted in every season but the fifth, which saw a slight drop. Indeed, it was the fifth episode of season 7 which became the series’ most-watched ever.
But perhaps more interestingly, the episodes which should have seen spikes didn’t. Every season, fans wait for episode 9, which has routinely provided some of the most memorable moments of the show - from the Red Wedding, to the Battle of the Bastards. In fact, it was in episode 9 of the first season (Baelor) that Ned Stark, a character most everyone assumed to be the show’s hero, was killed in a shock twist that would set the tone for what was to follow. But this excitement storytelling-wise isn’t reflected in the numbers.
While this could be explained in the first couple of seasons (by then viewers couldn’t have picked up on the trend), three of the shows first six seasons saw a decline in episode 9, and only marginal bumps in the remaining three.
Finales, however, have been uniformly terrific. They’ve become events, with fans putting together viewing parties, live-tweeting the show, and flooding the internet with opinions as soon as it’s over.
With the intriguingly-titled The Dragon and the Wolf due to air in just a few hours - it’s arguably the most hotly-anticipated episode of TV of the year - we can expect a new benchmark to be set.
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