‘Game of Thrones’ Breaks Series Viewership Record With Penultimate Episode

18.4 million people watched “The Bells” on Sunday

Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 Grey Worm Battle
Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5 Grey Worm Battle

(Spoiler alert: Stop reading now if you do not what to know what happened on Sunday’s “Game of Thrones” episode, “The Bells.”)

Sunday’s “Game of Thrones” broke the series record for multiplatform tune-in, with the penultimate episode, titled “The Bells,” drawing 18.4 million viewers. That includes linear viewing on HBO and streaming on HBO Go and HBO Now.

Last week’s episode, “The Last of the Starks,” drew 17.2 million multiplatform viewers. The week before that held the prior series record, as 17.8 million people watched “The Long Night” on the final Sunday in April.

On “The Bells,” which is alternatively known as “Game of Thrones” Episode 805, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) brings her army to King’s Landing to fight the “last war” against Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) to see who will claim the Iron Throne. But when the Mother of Dragons hears those titular bells ringing, signaling surrender from Cersei’s side, she decides to continue her fiery rampage through the city and claim thousands of innocent lives while Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) look on in horror.

Following “Thrones,” the “Veep” series finale, starting just before 11 p.m. ET, reached a season-high 1.6 million viewers, counting a replay and those streaming services.

HBO’s preferred internal numbers, which count HBO Go, HBO Now and repeats, cut off 30 days after each season finale airs. Per HBO’s own count — so yes, that month-plus-long version — the “Game of Thrones” U.S. viewership per season has been:

Season 1: 9.3 million
Season 2: 11.6 million
Season 3: 14.4 million
Season 4: 19.1 million
Season 5: 20.2 million
Season 6: 25.7 million
Season 7: 32.8 million

Below is Nielsen’s version, which counts seven days of delayed viewing per episode. This is a more typical way of looking at things, but it does not count HBO’s significant streaming additions.

Season 1:  3.3 million
Season 2:  4.9 million
Season 3:  6.4 million
Season 4:  9.0 million
Season 5:  9.5 million
Season 6:  10.6 million
Season 7:  13.7 million

The “Game of Thrones” series finale, which will almost surely break the viewership record once again, airs Sunday at 9/8c on HBO.

Jennifer Maas contributed to this story.