“The Last of Us” closed its first season with another triumph. With an audience of 8.2 million for episode 9, the series broke its own ratings record — a significant feat, considering the finale aired during ABC’s broadcast of the Oscars.
A combination of Nielsen data and first-party data from Warner Bros. Discovery, this number represents those who tuned in to the Sunday night broadcast on HBO’s cable channel as well as streams on HBO Max all night. WBD also shared that the series’ first six episodes now average 30.4 million viewers, with episode 1 approaching 40 million. In Europe and Latin America, “The Last of Us” became the most-watched show in HBO Max history.
This isn’t the first time “The Last of Us” has outdone itself in competition with a big award show. Episode 4, titled “Please Hold to My Hand”, drew 7.5 million viewers when it aired alongside the then-record-breaking Grammys.
When “The Last of Us” debuted in January, it followed “House of the Dragon” to become HBO’s second most-watched premiere in more than a decade with 4.7 million viewers. Episode 2 marked the biggest increase ever for HBO between the first and second episode of a series with 5.7 million viewers. The series then attracted 6.4 million viewers with episode 3.
WBD also released new viewership data for “The Last of Us” episodes 5-7, which were previously unavailable.
Episode 5 was viewed by 11.6 million people, which, while impressive, Variety does not envision a high streak due to its non-mainstream release. Because the episode was originally scheduled to air on Sunday nights to coincide with the Super Bowl, HBO elected to air the episode on HBO Max two days earlier. Therefore, this figure indicates an audience over the entire weekend of February 10 to 12, rather than just one night. Episodes 6 and 7 were viewed by 7.8 and 7.7 million people respectively.
The most comparable series in terms of viewership was “House of the Dragon” Season 1, which aired in 2022. And although “The Last of Us” has yet to surpass “House of the Dragon” , the former managed a steeper trajectory than the latter.
Starting with 4.7 million viewers and ending with 8.1 million, viewership for “The Last of Us” soared 75% throughout Season 1. In contrast, “House of the Dragon” was seen by 9.99 million with episode 1, 10.2 million with episode 2. and 9.3 million with its finale. (WBD hasn’t released exact viewership figures for Episodes 3-9.) That’s a 6.9% decrease. And while viewership for the ‘House of the Dragon’ finale was certainly impacted by the fact that the episode was leaked online two days before it aired, it’s almost impossible that it could have increased to the tune. from “The Last of Us” even without the leak. Despite the fact that many specific counts of the episodes were not available, it is still known that they followed a more regular path: Variety was able to confirm that the viewership of “House of the Dragon” increased by 5% with episode 4, 3% with episode 5 and an additional 3% with episode 6.
It’s also worth noting that ‘House of the Dragon’ had the benefit of serving as a prequel to ‘Game of Thrones’, HBO’s biggest hit of all time, while ‘The Last of Us’ is the first adaptation. on-screen from its source material. (the PlayStation games of the same name). “House of the Dragon” also never aired in competition with a major award show.
“The Last of Us” marked an early renewal for a second season, which was announced after only the first two episodes of Season 1 had aired. And given how successful the series has become, a third season already seems likely: creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann said on Monday that they intend to expand the storylines of the second video game “The Last of Us” plus a season of television.
Read VarietyThe final interview with Ashley Johnson, who played Ellie in the video games, and a final interview with production designer John Paino.