Season 3 ratings overview
By Hear Me Roar on in Speculation.

With some delay, here is the graphic representation of the ratings numbers over the course of the first three seasons, compared to a handful of other successful premium cable shows. Click to enlarge.

Ratings S3

As has always been the practice, please note the following:

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.

The most important metric is of course that of total viewership, where GoT has already taken the lead among current shows (second only to The Sopranos), as we reported three weeks ago. But for those who like numbers, here are some more ways of looking at those shown above:

True Blood still holds one over Thrones in terms of record ratings for the first airing by the smallest of margins (5.53 vs 5.50 million), set during its fourth season. S3 and S4 of True Blood both had an average of 5 million viewers (the number dropped subsequently), and GoT reached that same average this year as well. I guess these are the two numbers we can look forward to breaking next year. We will surely keep ourselves entertained by speculations as to if and when the 6 million mark will be broken, and if the show can add another million to its total viewership and be crowned the most watched HBO show of all times. Sound off in the comments.


39 Comments

  1. Grijnwaald
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Hodor

    To be honest, I’ll always be shocked if any other show gets better ratings than GoT….there again I’m extremely biased, as in everything that isn’t GoT is shit in comparison, it’s bad I know.

  2. GeekFurious
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    ARGH!! WHY>??!?! WHY?!?!??! WHY?!??!?!

    Thank you. I’ll be here all week.

    Oh, and Hodor.

    Plus, Frodo lives.

  3. We do not Hodor
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    GoT and Soprannos…my two fav shows of all time.

  4. Lars
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    An interesting note about True Blood:

    The recent season 6 premiere did score 4.5 million viewers – Which is slightly ahead of the GOT season 3 premiere (4.3?). BUT… For True Blood it was a 14% decline from the previous season opener, so it is a show in decline.

  5. Teresa
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    . . .speculations as to if and when the 6 million mark will be broken, and if the show can add another million to its total viewership. . .

    It’s possible that can be accomplished in Season 4, given the major plot twists and character developments still to come. My interest is how Season 5 will turn out, (assuming HBO grants another season) and whether Martin’s next novel will be coming out by then and how it impacts the TV storylines.

  6. Omar Brown
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Its gonna be very interesting to see what happens after season 4, once the more problematic books get adapted.

  7. babar
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Teresa: It’s possible that can be accomplished in Season 4, given the major plot twists and character developments still to come.

    Yeah, I think Joffrey’s death will generate a lot of buzz… and since it’s bound to happen at the beginning of the season.. :)

  8. anonymouse
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I know that this applies to both True Blood and GOT,but because i live outside USA and UK,i have to stream GOT online.What these charts do not consider is the sheer amount,hundreds of thousands of viewers who stream the episode rather than being subscribed to HBO.If HBO is more lenient regarding availability,these numbers would skyrocket

  9. Selmy
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I predict season 4 to reach an all-new high and then it will level off for the rest of its time on TV (Seasons 5, 6 and 7)
    We can’t expect it to keep going up forever.

  10. Turri
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    anonymouse,
    I would guess GoT has a much bigger global impact than any other series and it probably shows in DVD sales. Without knowing any numbers, one could even speculate the show is only profitable because piracy exists, in an ironic way.

  11. NathanG
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Will someone please explain the popularity of True Blood to me? It seems like a soap opera to me.

  12. Govnor
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think next seasons numbers are in question. They will be good, we all know it. Like someone else said, it’s beyond that they will likely start to level off or drop (likely drop I think). Killing off the main villains is going to give some people closure for sure.

  13. RitariKnight
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    anonymouse:
    I know that this applies to both True Blood and GOT,but because i live outside USA and UK,i have to stream GOT online.What these charts do not consider is the sheer amount,hundreds of thousands of viewers who stream the episode rather than being subscribed to HBO.If HBO is more lenient regarding availability,these numbers would skyrocket

    No they wouldn’t. These ratings are from Nielsen. They are calculated from the viewing habits of some 20,000 households in the USA, although only around 5,000 households of the total 20,000 have HBO. The only people who can influence the ratings are the Nielsen households. An initial airing viewership number of 5 million for GoT means that about 500-1,000 Nielsen households watched the initial airing (depending on the number of people in those households). The viewership figure of 5 million is then calculated from that using statistical mathematics. I won’t go into any details on that, but to put it simply: it is most likely wide of the mark concerning the actual viewer number in the real world (outside the Nielsen bubble).

    I very much doubt GoT or any other premium cable show will ever again reach double figures (in the millions) for initial airing ratings. For an HBO show, getting past 7 million will be difficult. The TV viewing habits have changed too much, and HBO is actively encouraging people to watch shows when it suits them and not when they are initially aired. The future of TV is in streaming, which is what HBO is slowly building towards along with some other companies. The traditional networks are the big losers in this, but it will take time, for sure, before things start looking bad for them ratings-wise because of the antiquated Nielsen system.

    I’ve tried to stay out of these, mostly pointless, ratings posts here on WIC.net, but just wanted to, once again, point out that it would be nice if these posts were accompanied with a disclaimer explaining their significance to GoT’s future existence (which is that there is no connection between the two). Most people just don’t understand ratings, so such information would be helpful for many.

    My prediction is that Season 4 will see a slight increase after the Purple Wedding but I’d be very surprised to see the initial airing viewership to exceed 7 million and quite surprised if it hits 6,5 million. But topping 6 million is certainly a possibility.

  14. Clob
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    NathanG: Will someone please explain the popularity of True Blood to me? It seems like a soap opera to me.

    I still watch the episodes eventually but imo it’s gotten progressively worse since s2. I think that’s a fairly common feeling. It’s never had the production quality of GoT, but there’s been a stretch here where anything vampires and werewolves has an audience. /shrug Btw, episode 2 of the season dropped to 4.08 million for it this week.

  15. João Guimarães
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I don’t get it why Boardwalk empire has lost so many viewers. It’s so well written :(

  16. Hodor's Bastard
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    RitariKnight,

    Until the organizations that produce these “stats” release their formulas, sample sets, margin of error, and extrapolation techniques, those of us who are mathematically-inclined will continue to be skeptical. As I’ve remarked before, there are many ways that these numbers can be skewed, with the actual numbers often much higher than published. In this multi-media age, the “viewership & first viewing” metric is silly. It never has represented the # of bodies with beating hearts watching the “first airing”, either live or via DVR/alternative. Did Nielson know that I watched the last S3 episode of GoT at my friend’s house instead of my house? I doubt it. Until our actions are recorded via implanted chips, then these stats are useful only for the innumerical and ignorant.

  17. anonymouse
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    RitariKnight,

    My apologies,i didn’t know how the process was carried out.makes much more sense now.
    Just imagine what HBO can achieve if it progresses towards paid-for online streaming in addition to subscription,worldwide. Of course these things take time and piracy would still be rampant,but how many thousands would pay for uninterrupted,clear methods of viewing GOT rather than meticulously searching for a most-decent but still shitty streaming link?Many.The 6 million mark is a certain possibility,considering some events in the next season…the 7 million mark i doubt it.maybe if the online-streaming plan is applied

  18. MW
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Clob: I still watch the episodes eventually but imo it’s gotten progressively worse since s2.I think that’s a fairly common feeling.It’s never had the production quality of GoT, but there’s been a stretch here where anything vampires and werewolves has an audience. /shrug Btw, episode 2 of the season dropped to 4.08 million for it this week.

    This week was the last ep of True Blood that I will be watching. There wasn’t anything in particular that did it for me. I just don’t care about their contrived plotlines anymore. It’s the same stuff over and over. The first 2 seasons were good. Then they lost their way.

  19. voiceareason
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    João Guimarães,

    It is very sad, I really don’t think it will get a fifth season. Even after “Two Imposters”, which was just fucking kick-ass, the finale couldn’t get the numbers up. Then again, the Wire had appalling ratings and was kept for a long time, and BWE does bring a lot of awards buzz, so maybe there’s still hope.

  20. WeirwoodTreeHugger
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    I mostly just watch True Blood for Pam and Lafayette and their hilarious one liners. Also, Alexander Skarsgaard is really hot. If you never expect the plots to make sense and the characters to be well developed it’s fun.
    I do think premium channels should allow non-subscribers to rent episodes online or on vod. Not all of the people who pirate would do this, but many probably would. I don’t pirate shows so I haven’t seen Homeland. I would probably rent the episodes if they were reasonably priced but I have no plans to subscribe to Showtime in the near future.

  21. João Guimarães
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    voiceareason

    Boardwalk empire deserves at least 6 or 7 seasons. I also believe that we gonna have them. Anyway there is a lot of amazing tv shows that were canceled to soon such as Deadwood or Rome :P

  22. Summer Is Coming
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I expect Game of Thrones to peak next season, becoming the most watched show on HBO’s history with record ratings. From then on I expect a stable to slight decline in viewership, but I guess it will be popular for its entire run. Cheers to its popularity!

    As for True Blood, my favorite season was S3, the one with Russell Edgington. That scene when he goes on live television and offers that horrible spectacle, it will be for me one of the best TV scenes ever! from then on it got worst, culminating with the disastrous S5. It had a lot of potential, but they went with the worst path for it. I guess now I watch from habit. Maybe it will recover a bit, yet its still boring… I love Jessica this season though.

  23. Lars
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Summer Is Coming,

    IMO True Blood only had one legitimately good season – The first one. After that it was downhill all the way.

    Somebody asked why True Blood is popular… It started out great, as a charming vampire tale set in the South, with a Sci-Fi twist – What if Vampires went public? (this is what interested me) It also had the HBO nudity, of course.

    Pretty much nothing of that original charm remains… all the characters have become shallow caricatures of themselves.

  24. Mimsy
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    I like to see the direction of GOT ratings. I expect Season 4 will continue the increased rating trend and even out throughout the season, but not fall below previous season ratings. Depending on how D&D shape the show, I wouldn’t be surprised to see GOT have a high season 4/5 rating.

    As far as True Blood goes… I enjoy the humor and stupidity of most characters.. but deep thinking is not their niche. I gagged from the last episode when those “shape shifter.. fly your freak flag” groupies entered Sam’s restaurant.

    It took me a few hours to get through the last TB episode, cuz I kept getting bored and switched to scanning channels. I’m not sure if I’ll last the season with this years story lines. TB needs new blood that’s for sure.

  25. sunspear
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Hodor’s Bastard,

    First viewing is the only metric Nielsen bothers to measure because it’s the only method of viewing that makes broadcasters any money. If people aren’t watching commercials, the networks make anything. I’m continually amazed that people don’t understand this.

  26. Restore The Day
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    More interesting:
    http://www.google.com/trends/explore?q=game+of+thrones#q=game%20of%20thrones%2C%20true%20blood%2C%20boardwalk%20empire%2C%20homeland%2C%20mad%20men&date=1%2F2009%2055m&cmpt=q

    Though some work to scale them together and accounting for global traffic (sure bigger now than at the time of the sopranos) would be needed.

    Very interesting as well: it seems to be much more international than the other ones in that list.

  27. Hodor's Bastard
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    sunspear,

    May I ask how your response applies to commercial-less HBO? My comment was simply related to the gathering of viewership metrics in this multi-media age. Nielsen has admitted that its metric gathering technique is flawed and will attempt to revise their approach in September 2013.

  28. Markus Kessunmaa
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    João Guimarães,

    Producers of Boardwalk Empire are planning and hoping for 6 seasons.

    And if remember correctly, Nielsen ratings has 5% error margin, so it’s possible that GOT has already beat True Blood on all ratings.

  29. WildSeed
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    João Guimarães:
    I don’t get it why Boardwalk empire has lost so many viewers. It’s so well written :(

    I was pondering that question myself. Perhaps with the wide choice of good shows
    to choose from, only a few experience a consistent audience, as viewership is
    quite spread out. For myself, I dedicate television viewing to no more than 4
    shows per year. I really don’t care for the addiction when reading or other
    activities take precedence.

    I enjoyed a few episodes of Boardwalk, when I saw them, I was just reluctant
    to commit. Everyone of those were well scripted, and I enjoyed the actors
    in portrayal. I have no guilt whatsoever , about leaving True Blood behind,
    years ago. *>*

  30. LittleCatPaws
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Grijnwaald:
    Hodor

    To be honest, I’ll always be shocked if any other show gets better ratings than GoT….there again I’m extremely biased, as in everything that isn’t GoT is shit in comparison, it’s bad I know.

    I agree with this and it makes watching TV very hard because I now use Game of Thrones as a benchmark, I also get disappointed when the actors just aren’t of the same calibre of beauty (forgive me this girliness!) but Richard Madden and NCW are just so damn fine! This is even worse living in England because our main channel the BBC produces such weak fantasy where they prefer to lecture the audience rather than just give us a damn good realistic characters (Robin Hood was awful for this reason, I can’t watch Merlin either. They butcher British/Celt culture and myths).

  31. GeekFurious
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    P.S.

    The Live+7 numbers for the finale 9pm showing are 6.9 million. This counts people who recorded the episode and then watched it. This isn’t counted in the silly overnights.

    That 6.9 million, as far as I know, is just for the 9pm showing. Not counting any other showings.

    Source:
    https://twitter.com/MediaSavantGF/status/349626781155852288

  32. Easteros bunny
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Lars,

    True blood is complete shit now.

    They have turned a good show into Scooby Doo.

  33. GeekFurious
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    RitariKnight: The viewership figure of 5 million is then calculated from that using statistical mathematics. I won’t go into any details on that, but to put it simply: it is most likely wide of the mark concerning the actual viewer number in the real world (outside the Nielsen bubble).

    The method for doing this is similar to the way Nate Silver predicted the presidential election with near 100% accuracy.

    The math is sound. People who don’t understand sampling dismiss it the way “experts” dismissed the science behind “the world is round” oh so many years ago.

    But HBO doesn’t care anyway. They just care about people who are subscribing and keeping their subscriptions because of GAME OF THRONES. That number is in the millions. Which means HBO may be making, at the least, double per episode what they spend.

  34. sunspear
    Posted June 25, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Hodor’s Bastard,

    My response was concerned mainly with regular networks and basic cable. But my main point stands. Neilsen has never claimed to take into account online viewers because online viewers are nigh irrelevant to how much money a show will generate, and they get an unfair amount of blame for what they do.

    Pretty much have to agree with GeekFurious exactly.

  35. Hear Me Roar
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    GeekFurious,

    I like your comment. Yes indeed.

  36. Teresa
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    . . .I agree with this and it makes watching TV very hard because I now use Game of Thrones as a benchmark, I also get disappointed when the actors just aren’t of the same calibre of beauty (forgive me this girliness!) but Richard Madden and NCW are just so damn fine! . . .

    I was at HBO’s website for GoT last month, and watched a brief video of the Season 3 red carpet premiere interviews. I was stunned at just how pretty everybody- and I mean everybody- on the cast was. When even the dwarf is a hot guy, clearly the casting department is doing something right.

    LittleCatPaws, GoT has spoiled me for other shows too. For me the other fantasy shows just don’t measure up. (I guess ABC’s Once Upon A Time and NBC’s Grimm are probably the edgiest fantasy shows right now on network TV.)

  37. GeekFurious
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    sunspear:
    Hodor’s Bastard,

    My response was concerned mainly with regular networks and basic cable. But my main point stands. Neilsen has never claimed to take into account online viewers because online viewers are nigh irrelevant to how much money a show will generate, and they get an unfair amount of blame for what they do.

    Pretty much have to agree with GeekFurious exactly.

    Actually, Nielsen does take into account online viewers when the same ads are shown. This also goes for on-demand viewers. But since that is rare, it is a tiny number.

    As I have said way too many times to count, Nielsen ratings are for the networks and advertisers to define how much money they exchange. The fact that people think it somehow matters to HBO as anything other than a way to rub some salt in the wounds of free networks, is lunacy.

    Now, I understand that some people just like to follow Nielsen numbers as if it is some score to a sport they like, for a team they like, but then you should care more about the non-overnight numbers WHICH ARE FAR MORE IMPORTANT in this case.

    The near 7 million who tuned into just the 9pm showing, as opposed to the 5.4 million counted by Nielsen as Live + Same Day (Live+SD) should be the headline. But it isn’t on this site. Why? Shrug.

    Makes.
    Zero.
    Sense.

  38. Winter Is Coming
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    GeekFurious: The near 7 million who tuned into just the 9pm showing, as opposed to the 5.4 million counted by Nielsen as Live + Same Day (Live+SD) should be the headline. But it isn’t on this site. Why? Shrug.

    Makes.
    Zero.
    Sense.

    As we’ve explained approximately 9,743 times, the reason we use that number is because it is the ONLY consistently reported number for all US TV shows and as such serves as a metric to compare those shows.

    We know that HBO doesn’t care about that number. We know that it’s not a true measure of the show’s audience. But people like to compare shows and, until Nielsen revamps their system, this is the best way to do that.

    Frankly, I don’t get what is so hard to understand about this concept.

  39. Ofthenorth
    Posted June 27, 2013 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    I love GoT. In fact im about to start season one again today.
    But lets not forget breaking bad which will be airing its final season soon . All in all both great shows and you cant really compare the 2. Totally different realms.

    Grijnwaald,


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