We are now oh-so-close to the premiere of Season Three. A big part of the waiting ritual in the period leading up to it is of course the speculation on the ratings. Since Game of Thrones is already a huge success no matter what metrics you use, the number of viewers of the initial broadcast is less important and our musings can be more light-hearted for it. Still, everyone would like to see those numbers climb ever higher. First things first, here is the chart of first three seasons’ worth of ratings for a number of premium cable shows, compared with Thrones. As always, note that all viewer numbers refer to the first airing only, and that the graphs of longer seasons have been scaled to correspond to the 10-episode run of GoT. (You can click to enlarge it.)
How strong will the new season open? Which way is the curve going to point? There is every indication that the Game of Thrones audience is still growing. Recently, Entertainment Weekly brought us fresh numbers concerning weekly viewers of the show. On average, 11.6 million people watched Thrones every week, accross all platforms (the previous number we had was 9.3 million). The sales of Season Two box sets broke records again, and was 44 percent higher than the first year, while digital copy downloads saw an increase of over 110 percent. Last year’s Shadow trailer was the most viewed trailer in HBO history on YouTube with over 3.5 million views. This year’s S3 trailer reached a staggering 20 million views! The traffic to our site is likewise reaching record heights, exceeding even the numbers we are used to when Thrones is actually airing. Add to that the fact that GoT was the most pirated show in 2012, and you can see why we are optimistic about the ratings once the show returns at the end of the month.
However, there are also factors that may keep the intial numbers lower than they would otherwise be for the premiere. First, it will run against the finale of The Walking Dead season, which maintains a large share of the audience, regularly landing at the top of the viewership charts for the evening. Second, March 31 will be Easter Sunday. On top of that, the last hour of History’s series The Bible will also air concurrently with Thrones (in the first three weeks the series aired to more than 10 million viewers). While the numbers for the first hour may consequently not be too impressive, we must not forget that episode one of the third season will air three times back to back on premiere night. The cumulative number of viewers should already give us a clearer indication of the possible trends this season.
Hear Me Roar: My prediction is that the three airings together will set a new record for the show, and that the season average for the first airing of each episode will be between 4 and 5 million. I am already looking forward to Tuesdays when the ratings are usually released! Join the discussion in the comments.