Despite the leak of the most recent Game of Thrones episode, The Spoils of War, the show still managed to grab more than 10 million fans for the fourth episode of its seventh season. This leak, the focal point of much debate over the last week, made the episode available days before its Sunday release but fans of the show came out to defend their stance on why they wouldn’t watch the low-quality leaked video (the resolution was only 360p). Not to mention, downloading leaked content is a one-way ticket to reading our article on how to remove spyware as links like that are rarely trustworthy.
According to deadline.com, it appears many held this same belief and waited for the real deal as the final viewership count reached 10.2 million, a new record high for the Medieval series. That’s just shy of the Breaking Bad finale which garnered 10.3 million viewers. Not too shabby for a couple of shows that we said you might have a hard time explaining to your friends.
If you take this into account, together with the incredible sales it sees on its box sets, which sold more than 157,000 copies in one week in the UK and the popularity of its merchandise, you can’t deny that GoT is a juggernaut of a brand, which actually makes more than $1 billion annually according to the New York Times. There’s also the episodic video games made by Telltale. Heck, it even has its own virtual slot machine at betway.com alongside other branded titles such as Tarzan and Jurassic World. The official HBO Game of Thrones shop offers everything from mugs and t-shirts to House Targaryen silicon baking mold.
But how exactly does it compare to other television series? Before the final episode of season seven comes out, let’s look at some of the most viewed series ever and see how GoT might stack up by the time it gets to its eighth and final season.
The “show about nothing” did very well for itself in its run as it’s been considered one of the most beloved works to hit television. Now, keep in mind that Game of Thrones is on HBO, a non-commercial or paid channel, so the number of people available to watch it in comparison to Seinfeld (and many other on this list) will be quite low. However, the sitcom managed to grab 76.3 million viewers in its final episode putting it as the sixth-most watched non-sport entertainment event of all time according to the Los Angeles Times. Although we don’t think Seinfeld had any fashion influence in its time. Score one for GoT.
Another show about a group of people in a big city. I think we’re starting to see why some of these shows get so popular. The Friends finale, while not as big as Seinfeld, might have been a little more well-received by critics and still makes us really emotional. When Joey, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, Ross and Rachel gave their final bows, they did it in front of more than 52.5 million fans according to the New York Times. That’s huge considering the most viewed television event in history, Super Bowl XLIX, had 120.8 million.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
From Dragons to Data, Star Trek: The Next Generation is a big one because it’s one of the few science fiction shows with huge elements of fantasy that attained such a high level of popularity. Ranking #17 in Rolling Stone’s best science fiction shows of all time, it’s safe to say that this well-known space adventure at least played a part in the series getting the movie reboots starring Chris Pine. Although the series’ television run has seen multiple iterations, it’s widely recognized, alongside the original, as the best Star Trek of all time and that shows considering its series finale was watched by 31 million people according to theworldlink.com.
As a comparison, fellow HBO show, The Sopranos had 11.9 million viewers – the most watched HBO show of all time. Although there was quite a lot of disagreement surrounding the final episode and its abrupt ending, it’s hard to deny that people were interested in the show as it blended violence, drama, humour, and hardship in a similar way to Game of Thrones. The show was so popular that The Vulture suspected the nearly 12 million to be a low number considering the show’s reputation. Regardless, if The Sopranos and Game of Thrones have taught us anything, it’s that violence sells. Maybe the next big HBO show will be based on the army.
That brings us to our fifth and, by far, most popular of the television shows, M*A*S*H. The hugely successful comedy drama had the most watched series finale of any show as it came in at 105.97 viewers, a record that stood for 27 years according to The Guardian. So many people were watching that after the finale concluded, 6.7 million gallons of water were sent to the New York sewers. Now that’s a winner by a landslide!
With all of that being said, it would be a miracle to see an HBO show come out as anywhere near top of the most watched shows of all time, but it’s safe to say that with a growing popularity (every season sees about 1 million more in viewership and season 7 was the first to peak above 10 million as it did this twice) we will see the season finale of season seven beat the 11.9 million set by The Sopranos and season eight will add to that number again. It’s just a matter of by how much. Garnering 15 million viewers in its last episode would put it just below Married… With Children and in the top 50 most-watched finales of all time. But does it have what it takes to raise its numbers that much?