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Like a terrified Jon Snow on the back of a large dragon, Game of Thrones ratings are soaring. According to Variety, the HBO dramas Season 8 premiere netted 17.4 million viewers across its linear network, HBO Go, and HBO Now—and 11.8 million of those viewers tuned in on the network itself. Thats over a million more viewers than tuned in for the Season 7 premiere back in 2017—16.1 million in total. In fact, Sundays premiere even beat the shows own record for total viewership, previously held by the Season 7 finale at 16.9 million viewers. Translation: winter might be here, but Game of Thrones is hotter than ever. (Sorry.)

As Variety notes, the coming days are also expected to drive viewership up even more, as droves of people tune in late. Either way, Variety adds that Sunday was also the best night HBO has ever seen in terms of streaming activity. All this, even despite DirecTV leaking the episode early. The power!

Its not hard to guess why so many viewers tuned in Sunday night to watch the show live (or as soon as it began streaming). Its been over a year and a half since Game of Thrones fans last got to hang out with their favorite characters—and the premiere gave those die-hards a lot to see. There was a new title sequence, the promise of a new “showstopper” weapon for Arya Stark, a chilling face-off between Bran Stark and Jaime Lannister, and several more emotional reunions as well. Oh, and we got an update on Ed Sheerans characters fate, so . . . theres that, too.

As Variety notes, Game of Thrones has grown its audience every season so far; episodes got an average of 9.3 million total viewers, including delayed viewing, in Season 1, and that number climbed up to 32.8 million in Season 7, according to HBO. Given the start this season already got off to, it seems safe to assume the trend will continue.

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