In case we needed further proof that Game of Thrones was a rare TV phenomenon, look no further than the massive ratings for its finale. Sundays “The Iron Throne” was another record-breaker in a season of record-breakers—not just for Game of Thrones viewership, but also for HBOs history as a network. According to The Hollywood Reporter, 13.6 million viewers watched Sundays finale live—a number that jumps to 19.3 million when combined with replays and early streaming. This makes the episode the highest-rated in HBO history—proving that although this season could be polarizing, its strength remains unmatched.

Game of Thrones certainly did not wait until its final six episodes to become divisive; heated debates and discussions about the shows choices, especially in contrast to George R.R. Martins books, followed the series since its early days. But the epics final chapter invited even more scrutiny, as show-runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss tried to satisfyingly close a story with dozens of complicated plot threads and character arcs. Everything, from the shows lighting to its deaths and the surprising decisions of its characters, has been the subject of argument and ire. Theres even a fan petition calling upon the network to re-do the entire season, with 1.2 million signatures and counting.

That said, for all their complaints and snark, viewers have continued to turn up, setting record after record. The Season 8 premiere shattered Season 7s premiere ratings by more than a million-viewer margin and set a viewership record for the series as a whole; two weeks later, Episode 3, “The Long Night,” set a new one. According to T.H.R., five of Game of Thrones six most-watched episodes ever debuted this season.

As viewer erosion and increased competition continue to shrink ratings numbers across all TV networks and platforms, its becoming increasingly unlikely for another series to capture the same-size audience as Game of Thrones—even with plenty of would-be imitators lining up to try and fill that void. In retrospect, Benioff and Weisss original pitch to HBO was pretty prophetic: “People are hungry for Game of Thrones,” they wrote in 2006. “They are starving for it, and when we give it to them, they will wolf it down. They will watch it, and keep watching it, and tell everyone they know to watch it, and never stop talking about it at dinner, at work, at home. When we give them this show, they will lose their fucking minds.”

For nearly a decade, Thrones has been a watercooler series—sometimes because of brilliantly executed plot twists and callbacks, and other times for darker, less fun reasons. It commanded the attention of millions. But ordering all of that compelling chaos into a coherent, satisfying ending was always going to be a nearly impossible challenge. As Emilia Clarke recently put it, “The stories are too vast, the characters too complex. The show is, in a certain way, divisive: Whose side are you on? Also, if youre pleasing everyone, then its probably quite tepid.”

In the end, there were plenty of Read More – Source

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Vanity Fair

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