It’s Tuesday, and this means – ratings! Even when Game of Thrones has completed its run. Apparently I am not the only one who likes shiny graphs; thank you for your comments of eager anticipation. While I am far from being any kind of a guru of design, I do like to have my numbers visually represented. So here it is, by (moderately) popular demand – the comparative graph of season one first airing ratings (click to enlarge).
We have all followed the ratings as they were coming in, so of course we know that there is a nice and steady upward trend to them, evident in the graphics. Taking the first repeat later the same night into account does not change the picture, as it standardly added another 0.8 or 0.9 million to the first airing figure. The rise was slow, though, and we will have to wait until season 2 for any explosions. Game of Thrones did consistently better than True Blood in its first season, and caught up with Boardwalk Empire by the end of its run. After the break I continue the discussion by first listing the difference between the premiere and the finale (in million viewers) of the first season for a number of shows:
- The Sopranos: +1.7 (49%)
- True Blood: +1.2 (86%)
- Boarwalk Empire: -1.6 (-33%) overall; upward trend from the 4th episode: +0.6 (23%)
- Game of Thrones: +0.8 (36%)
- Rome: +3.3 (87%)
- The Tudors: -0.2 (-22%)
- Spartacus: +0.5 (71%)
- The Walking Dead +0.6 (11%)
As to long term combined ratings, the reports differ a bit. The average viewership per episode in season one stands at either 8.3 (according to EW) or 8.9 million (according to TV by the Numbers). I believe these are measured over the first 2 weeks of airing per individual episode. Either way, here is a comparative graph (courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter) of the latest season combined numbers for other HBO shows, and as you can see Game of Thrones has done exceedingly well in its inaugural season.
Some time later, once all the numbers are in (with no little thanks to Martin, @WyvernWood), we will also take a look at the successful UK viewership figures.
What to expect next? Well, in my experience and according to anecdotal reports, the show gets even better a) on rewatch and/or b) when you watch several episodes back to back. This bodes well for the hype build-up between seasons and the DVD sales. When looking at the increase in ratings between the S1 finale and the S2 premiere, the rule of the thumb seems to be that successful shows manage to add 50% to their numbers. This means that the benchmark for Game of Thrones should be at around 4.5 million. We will have a post with a more detailed anlysis closer to the relevant date, of course.
Hear Me Roar: I have always been an optimist and I may have hoped for the show to exceed the 3 million mark already before the finale, but realistically there’s only that much growth you can achieve over 10 episodes (of a serialized narrative demanding viewers to be really invested, at that). Rising popularity trends on all fronts, not solely in the viewership itself, are an indication of great success for a new show, and I can already hardly wait for the season 2 premiere ratings.