Did Game of Thrones manage to set yet another ratings record for yet another leaked episode?
Not quite. But the HBO fantasy hit’s latest adventure, “Beyond the Wall,” still managed to deliver the show’s second-biggest audience ever.
Sunday’s 70-minute episode racked up 10.2 million viewers from the show’s first 9 p.m. airing, tying the fourth episode of the season, “The Spoils of War,” as the second most-watched GoT episode in the overnight Nielsens of all time. Last week’s hour, “Eastwatch,” still holds the record with 10.7 million viewers.
“Beyond the Wall” was leaked online four days in advance by two of HBO’s overseas divisions in what appeared to be a brief uploading error. The leaks have not, it seems, impacted the show’s ratings. “The Spoils of War” set what was then an all-time record despite leaking (though that was only two days in advance of airing compared to four days for “Beyond the Wall”). “Eastwatch” then set the show’s biggest record of all time and did not leak. So both an episode that leaked and an episode that did not leak set all-time records within a couple weeks of each other, suggesting that leaking was neither harmful or a benefit, though one can’t draw any firm conclusions from just a couple examples.
RELATED: Hear the latest from EW’s Game of Thrones Weekly podcast
If you include repeats and streaming, “Beyond the Wall” is already up to 14.2 million viewers across all platforms. And GoT episodes from earlier in this season are averaging around 29 million viewers once all forms of viewing are counted — and that’s only in the United States; the show is a major hit overseas as well.
The HBO hacker who infiltrated the company has threatened to leak Sunday’s 80-minute season finale. But the hacker hasn’t leaked any actual GoT footage previously (all the leaks have been from separate HBO-affiliated sources) and network insiders don’t believe the hacker has obtained any assets from the valuable series, including the finale. The season finale has a good shot at setting another record for the franchise in any case as the show’s final episodes of every season tend to be record highs.
In any case, the finale has a rather good shot at setting another record for the franchise as the show’s final episodes of every season tend to be record highs.
Read our Beyond the Wall coverage:
— Emilia Clarke on Daenerys’ ‘heartbreaking’ loss
— Thoros of Myr actor on leaving the show
— Our popular deep-dive recap
— HBO’s season 7 finale preview reveals epic reunion scene
— Director on staging that frozen lake battle
— GoT stars explain that Sansa vs. Arya tension
— Our podcast (new episode Monday) where we’ll talk about what it was like on set for that polar bear fight
Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO.