The first episode of the eighth season of “Game of Thrones,” which features the rivalry of the seven families of Westeros, aired Sunday night on HBO. A record 17.4 million viewers were recorded on all platforms of the American channel.
“Game of Thrones” is back. The first episode of the eighth and final season of the fantastico-medieval saga was broadcast Sunday night on the American channel HBO. Who will eventually sit on the iron throne to rule the imaginary territory of Westeros? To find out, some 17.4 million viewers attended this premiere, according to the channel’s figures.
At the height of its popularity, the series from George R. R. Martin’s books broke a record of viewing across all HBO platforms (TV, HBO Go, and HBO Now). Breaking the previous record of 16.9 million spectators, held by the last episode of Season 7.
This number only applies to fans who have attended the live show. But the total number of viewers is expected to increase in the coming days. And hacking data is not taken into account. On average, according to HBO, last season’s episodes were watched by more than 32 million people across the Atlantic.
The popularity of this show starring bloody wars, political maneuvers and betrayals has grown: 9.3 million viewers on average per episode for season 1 (still in the United States), 11.6 million for season 2, 14.4 million for the 3, 19.1 million for the 4 … up to these 32 million faithful for season 7.
For comparison, “Roseanne”, “Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS”, the top-rated series of 2018 according to data Nielsen, have between 16 and 20 million viewers on average.
Highly anticipated, after a long interruption of almost two years, the fantastico-medieval saga also allowed the American channel to boost audiences on its HBO Now streaming platform: + 50% compared to the final episode of the season seven and + 97% compared to his first episode.
For months, fans have been debating endlessly the outcome of the saga, which also holds the most illegally downloaded series record. In season 7, hacking was estimated at more than 1 billion illegal views.
A budget of 15 million per episode
The eighth season was announced as the most expensive in the history of the series, with a budget of $ 15 million per episode, or 90 million for the six. Between the special effects, the hazards of the natural settings and the stamp of the actors (more than 1.1 million dollars per episode for the five main characters), the counters panic. Especially since the episodes of this last season are longer than the previous ones: 1 h 20 for the last three.
The pilot of the series, alone, had already cost nearly 10 million dollars and the most expensive season, the 7, had raised the bill to 100 million. A Huge but Profitable Investment: According to the New York Times, the franchise is worth $ 1 billion a year to HBO. It is also the most awarded series of Emmy awards with a total of 38 prizes.
A prequel already in preparation
Will HBO see it leave its jewel at the same time as its viewers? While the channel has to deal with the arrival of new challenges in the streaming, such as Disney +, some users could take the opportunity to reevaluate their subscription.
In addition, the end of “Game of Thrones” comes at a time when HBO is at a crossroads. Last year, Time Warner, the parent company, was bought by AT & T for $ 85 billion. Since then, all of the company’s executives have resigned and been replaced.
Richard Plepler, the iconic leader of HBO, has also decided to leave the prestigious chain. At the head of the company since 2007, he had bet on the series – yet full of violence and nudity – approved his titanic budget and left to the controls David Benioff and DB Weiss, who had no experience of television production.
But the channel is not going to let the potential of the lush universe out of the imagination of George R.R. Martin disappear. A “prequel” – a film whose plot takes place before the series – is already in preparation. According to the HBO press release, the story will tell “the fall of the world, from the Age of Heroes to its darkest hours”. The throne is at stake again …