As we approach the conclusion of Game of Thrones, the series is showing no signs of losing interest. Quite the opposite, in fact, as yesterday’s premiere of Season 7 set a new record for HBO.
Game of Thrones spoilers lie ahead.
"Dragonstone," the debut episode of Season 7, attracted a total of 16.1 million viewers (10.1 million on broadcast, and the rest through DVR/streaming), according to Variety. That’s a 50% increase over the Season 6 premiere, which is surprising given the cliffhanger that Season 5 left off on, with audiences waiting to find out if Jon Snow would indeed be resurrected.
It’s an even more impressive accomplishment when you account for when Season 7 kicked off. As Variety notes, TV viewership is generally higher in the spring than summer. It’s a a fact that obviously isn’t reflected by these numbers, as every previous season of Game of Thrones began in either March or April. Despite the summer debut, this figure makes "Dragonstone" the most-watched season premiere in HBO history.
While very good, this was ultimately a slower episode than those that Season 6 wrapped up with, which was to be expected. Trailers for this season–as well as remarks from the cast–suggest the pace will greatly pick up from here. A teaser trailer for Episode 2, in particular, suggests some action is in store for viewers next week. Season 7 will run only seven episodes total, three fewer than past seasons.