Even Up Against the NBA Finals, HBO’s Most Popular Show of All Time Comes Close to a Record

Jun 16, 2014  •  Post A Comment

The drama series that has become the most popular show ever on HBO wrapped up its fourth season Sunday with a ratings performance that came close to a record. Variety reports that “Game of Thrones" topped 7 million viewers.

"According to Nielsen in-home viewing estimates, the 9 p.m. telecast — which went head-to-head with the NBA Finals on ABC in most of the country — averaged 7.1 million viewers, up from the previous week (6.95 million) but not quite as big as the series’ previous high of 7.195 million on May 18. It was up a big 32% from last year’s finale (5.39 million) and more than doubled its first-season finale (3.04 million in 2011)."

With a couple of additional airings later Sunday night, the total for the program ticked up to 9.3 million.

"Sunday’s finale continued the show’s remarkable ratings growth, as 'Thrones' became the rare series to increase its audience for three consecutive seasons," Variety notes. "Its initial 10-episode season averaged 2.52 million same-night viewers, a total that swelled to 3.80 million in 2012, 4.97 million in 2013 and 6.8 million for its 2014 run."

HBO announced earlier this month that "Thrones" had surpassed "The Sopranos" to become the No. 1 show in the pay-cable channel's history.

"According to Nielsen, episodes of the show that premiere on Sunday night go on to attract an average gross audience of 18.6 million viewers once replays, DVR playback and viewing on other platforms is included," the Variety story notes. "The previous high for an HBO series, set by the 2002 season of 'The Sopranos' (in the pre-DVR era) was an average gross audience of 18.2 million viewers per episode. Season three of 'Game of Thrones' had an average gross audience of 14.4 million viewers per episode."

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