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Ratings Soar for Finale in U.S.

Via James Hibberd at EW, some great news: viewership of the final episode of Game of Thrones hit 3 million viewers, with 3.9 million viewers overnight across recap and other sources. According to TV by the Numbers, the “key” 18-49 demographic was 1.4, which surpassed Boardwalk Empire‘s finale in that same metric. That figure probably matters rather more to advertising-supported broadcast television—18 or 99, a subscriber is a subscriber as far as HBO is concerned—but it does show that the core audience slants younger.

For many fans, the 3 million mark was something of a holy grail, but for us it feels like a bit of artifice, the tendency to want to just peg things at some understandable figure. 3 is nice and round, where 3.1 is not. Still, the result is very good, as is the steady average of 8.3 million viewers per episode in total. It will be interesting to see if that average ticks up now that the full series has aired, and some may decide to view it all on On Demand during the summer. A heavily serialized story such as Game of Thrones will certainly benefit from that approach, which is all the more reason why some fans (and critics) think HBO should shift from their usual pattern of releasing the Blu-ray and DVD sets in the month or two prior to the premiere of a new season, and instead aim for the holidays, where fans will certainly buy it up in droves, and may buy some as gifts to expose some to the show that haven’t yet gotten around to it.

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