“Game of Thrones” has already been claimed a hit by critics and viewers alike. And now that title will only get bigger and stronger, especially now that the record audience tuning into the Season 2 premiere wasn’t a fluke.
The HBO fantasy drama attracted 3.8 million viewers Sunday night, slightly lower than the 3.9 million that tuned in the week before, according to Entertainment Weekly. That is far ahead of the viewership the series received last season, and is especially surprising considering most premiere audiences are over-inflated.
That’s not the case here. Having a year off to make the second season gave many who may have missed “Game of Thrones” the first time the chance to see what all the talk was about. The first season has been available in most cable on-demand systems, HBO Go and even DVD, making the show highly accessible to a much wider audience.
“Game of Thrones” continues to dominate Sundays, at least in cable land. Two AMC shows, “Mad Men” and “The Killing” also were virtually unchanged from the week before. However, only “Mad Men” is even close to “Game of Thrones,” attracting 2.8 million viewers for what many critics have described as one of the best episodes of the series so far. “The Killing” continues its slump, remaining flat from its already lower 1.8 million viewers from the year before.
Amazingly, there is still no word yet from HBO on whether it will order a third season, although such an order is excepted as a shoo-in. The second season was ordered soon after the series premiere aired on the cable channel, but it seems HBO is taking a little longer to make an announcement for Season 3.
While having a high number of viewers is good, the value of those viewers are different for a premium cable channel compared to networks and other commercial-based cable channels. Because HBO is funded by paying subscribers, the value of a show like “Game of Thrones” is the buzz that helps convince more television viewers to pay extra to receive HBO, not the actual number of people who tune in.
For a network show, advertisers pay based on the number of people who see their commercial. Because there are no advertisers on HBO, final viewing numbers are used more as a basis of identifying new subscribers and who may have remained a subscriber because of the series than how a network would use them.
“Game of Thrones” aires Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. See our review of Sunday’s episode “The Night Lands” by clicking here.