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Ratings are less important for HBO than they are for other channels. This is mostly due to the fact that people subscribe to the cable channel and then are able to watch their favorite programs, commercial-free, whenever they wish to. Thus, while we’ve known for a long time that Game of Thrones Season 5 crushed on HBO, we haven’t known exactly how well it was doing in terms of total viewership. Today, reports indicate that Game of Thrones has averaged nearly 20 million total viewers per episode in its most recent season.
Three weeks after the final episode aired, the show is averaging 19.8 million total viewers per episode, when factoring in the original TV premieres, On-Demand, encore performances, DVR, HBO Go and HBO Now. With all of those ways to watch, it’s easy to see how Game of Thrones has racked up those sorts of numbers, but what’s more interesting is that more households have seemed to have picked up the series during its fifth season. THR says that eventually the average is expected to be above the 20 million mark, soundly beating out the 19.1 million total viewer average that Season 4 brought in. (And that’s not even counting everyone who pirates the series.)
It’s clear that Game of Thrones is popular, so popular in fact, that it has outranked the former most popular program on the network, The Sopranos. The increase in numbers might have to do with HBO’s standalone streaming service, which launched around the time Game of Thrones premiered Season 5 this spring. Alternatively, plots including the dragon pits and the unclear fate of a major POV character on the Wall may have enticed more people to tune in or return to the series.
The ratings increase for Game of Thrones has been coming for a while. In fact, the Season 5 finale nabbed 8.11 million total viewers—a record high for the subscription cable fantasy drama. And no wonder, social media was primed for the episode. We’re about to get into a few spoilers so head out now if you somehow have managed to avoid information about the GOT finale thus far. A lot happened during the crazy episode. A short list of highlights includes Cersei repenting for her ways and having to walk nude through parts of King’s Landing, Stannis losing the ground he had accrued in the North (and probably his life) and Jon Snow getting betrayed, stabbed and left to die cruelly in the snow. The penultimate and final episodes of Season 5 were extremely eventful and it’s easy to see why more eyeballs were glued to the screen.
It will still be a while before the new episodes will dominate in the schedule; Game of Thrones won't return to the schedule until 2016. In the meantime, here's everything we know about Season 6 so far.