It may be the dead of summer, but Game of Thrones brought winter to an incredible 16 million US viewers last night (July 16).
HBO's seventh season premiered doubled the show's previous ratings record across all platforms from the season six opener in the spring of 2016.
When only TV viewers are taken into account, Entertainment Weekly reports that the 10.1 million who turned into HBO for 'Dragonstone' on Sunday was also significantly higher than the 8.9 million who tuned in to the show's previous most-watched episode 'The Winds of Winter' in June 2016.
'Dragonstone' kicked off the first of two shortened seasons designed to bring Game of Thrones to a close either next year or in 2019 - the season eight production schedule is still in flux.
Season seven was shifted from Game of Thrones' usual spring window into a mid-summer slot to allow for producers' ambitious filming schedule.
To make up for both the delay and the shortened seven-episode season, HBO has granted all but one of the episodes extended run time. The longest will be a near-90 minute finale on August 27.
"It always amazed me when I watched Breaking Bad and they could get every episode so perfect and they would all be like 42 minutes and 40 seconds or something – which is its own separate skill amongst everything else that went into making a show that [creator] Vince Gilligan and his team were able to do," producer David Benioff recently admitted.
"One of the things we're lucky about is, we don't have the same pressure. We have one episode that's coming in around 90 minutes and another that's going to be our shortest episode at 50 minutes. Those episodes are better at those lengths but I'm glad we didn't have the additional pressure Vince had."
Game of Thrones continues this Sunday (July 23) with the 59-minute 'Stormborn' on HBO in the US and on Monday (July 24) on Sky Atlantic in the UK. Watch a teaser below:
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