The Wall Street Journal: Return of ‘Game of Thrones’ brings record ratings for HBO

A record 17.4 million people tuned in Sunday night for the beginning of the end of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” according to Nielsen and the network.

The show, which entered its eighth and final season this week, is the most popular show in HBO’s history, topping the mafia drama “The Sopranos.”

The figure will likely grow significantly when viewing from digital video recorders and on-demand as well as catch-up viewing on HBO are added in. The last season of “Game of Thrones” averaged 32.8 million viewers across all platforms. The 17.4 million figure includes streaming on the HBO Go and HBO Now platforms. HBO Now, which is the channel’s direct-to-consumer brand saw a 97% jump compared with the season seven premiere.

HBO, a unit of AT&T Inc. T, -0.56%  , is developing potential “Game of Thrones” prequels.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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