After 20 months of anticipation, Game of Thrones returned to HBO for its eighth and final season and a record number of viewers watched the return to Westeros for the premiere.
Across the premium cable network and its streaming sites HBO Go and HBO Now, 17.4 million viewers tuned in last night to watch the Season 8 premiere of the dark fantasy series, a new all-time high for the show.
Previously, the series' highest number of viewers was the Season 7 finale, "The Dragon and the Wolf," which was watched by 4% less viewers upon its initial broadcast in August 2017.
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Digitally, the increase is even more impressive, with a 50% streaming increase over the Season 7 finale and 97% increase over the Season 7 premiere, with the largest streaming numbers HBO has ever earned to date. In terms of traditional cable broadcast, the final season premiere is 7% over the Season 7 premiere and 7% below the Season 7 finale, though analysts have at least partially attributed the dip due to an early leak on DirecTV and HBO being removed from Dish Network following a contractual dispute with the satellite television provider.
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, Game of Thrones stars Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow.