By James Hibberd
Updated May 30, 2012 at 02:40 PM EDT

Ratings for HBO’s Game of Thrones spectacular battle episode went … down?

Yes, the show dipped to 3.4 million viewers for the show’s premiere airing Sunday night (recap here), down 13 percent from last week. Thing is, the decline isn’t entirely surprising due to the Memorial Day weekend, which often sees about a 20 percent reduction in overall TV viewership (and, just saying, last year the show’s seventh episode aired the same holiday weekend, delivering only 2.4 million viewers). Fan and critic reaction to the hour was extremely positive, with many claiming on comment boards they’ve watched the episode multiple times since its debut.

Also, HBO viewers know they’d have to wait a month to actually miss an episode. Thrones currently averages 10.3 million viewers per episode once all viewing is tallied, including repeats, OnDemand and HBO Go. That makes Thrones the third most-watched series of all time in HBO’s history. Expect premiere numbers to climb for Sunday’s second season finale.

UPDATE: Some on Twitter comparing this number to History’s Hatfields and McCoys miniseries opener, which aired on Monday to a huge 13.9 million viewers. Yes, the idea of Kevin Costner beating Peter Dinklage makes us Thrones fans want to throw ourselves off The Wall. But Sunday on a three-day holiday weekend is effectively like a Saturday, while Monday turns into Sunday … if that makes sense. Plus, Western movie originals often score massive total viewer numbers on basic cable due to delivering huge amounts of older viewers — like AMC’s Broken Trail pulling 9.8 million viewers a few years back.

Episode Recaps


Game of Thrones

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series 'A Song of Ice and Fire.'

  • TV Show
  • 8
  • 73
  • TV-MA
  • David Benioff
  • D.B. Weiss
  • HBO
stream service