It’s common practice for cable companies alike to skip airing their headline programs on a big holiday like the Memorial Day Weekend, and we saw that with Starz skipping Magic City and Showtime The Borgias. But HBO decided to go ahead and keep serving up Game of Thrones once a week. I know we’re all glad to have seen “Blackwater” when we did, but it did have one negative impact: ratings, which dipped a bit.
According to TV by the Numbers, while the episode did win the second place spot in the cable rankings (behind yet more NBA playoffs), it dropped to a 1.6 share (from 2.0) in the 18-49 demographic and 3.384 million viewers for the first airing, with a second airing later in the evening adding an additional 863,000 for a total of 4.244 million viewers. It’s genuinely a holiday thing, so no worries, and the finale may well get the uptick some are hoping to see to put it over the 4 million initial and 5 million total viewership some have hoped for.
On the other hand, James Hibbred at EW notes that last year, the seventh episode also aired on Memorial Day weekend and scored 2.4 million… so you can see that the series is way up overall from where it was this time last year. On top of that, Hibberd adds another important piece of information, perhaps the information HBO considers the most important of all: total average viewership per episode has climbed to 10.3 million viewers when factoring in HBO Go, repeat viewings, and On Demand. That secures its place as the third most-watched series on HBO, and if it continues to climb it may well displace True Blood as #2. #1 is, of course, The Sopranos.
Perhaps to help that along, starting on June 2nd at 6PM the HBO Zone channel will be running not one, not two, but three back-to-back marathons of all nine S2 episodes, back to back, with the final airing of Blackwater timed to just before the premiere of “Valar Morghulis”.