“The Last of Us” held its own against the Grammy Awards on Sunday, continuing its audience growth momentum for a third consecutive week.
The fourth episode of “The Last of Us” delivered another series high with a total of 7.5 million viewers tuning in across HBO Max and linear telecasts.
The viewership figure, which is based on Nielsen and first party data, marks a 17% increase from Episode 3 and a 60% jump from the series premiere, which scored 4.7 million viewers – HBO’s second-largest debut, behind only “House of the Dragon” – since “Boardwalk Empire” premiered on the network in 2010.
In comparison, the Grammys drew 12.4 million total viewers across Sunday’s live broadcast on CBS and livestream on Paramount+, according to Nielsen data. The figure marks the largest audience for music’s biggest night since 2020, when the telecast brought in 18.8 million total viewers.
“The Last of Us” takes place 20 years after modern civilization has been destroyed. Joel (Pedro Pascal), a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle a 14-year-old girl named Ellie (Bella Ramsey) out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.
Rounding out the rest of the main cast is Gabriel Luna (“True Detective”), who plays Joel’s younger brother and former soldier Tommy; Anna Torv (“Fringe”), who plays a smuggler and fellow hardened survivor Tess; and Merle Dandrige (“The Flight Attendant”), who reprises her role from the video game as resistance leader Marlene.
Guest stars include Nico Parker (“The Third Day”) as Joel’s daughter Sarah; Murray Bartlett (“The White Lotus”) and Nick Offerman (“Parks and Recreation”) as Frank and Bill, two post-pandemic survivalists living alone in their own isolated town; Storm Reid (“Euphoria”) as Riley, an orphan in Boston; and Jeffrey Pierce ( “The Last of Us” video games) as Perry, a rebel in a quarantine zone.
The series, which is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television, is written and executive produced by Craig Mazin (“Chernobyl”) and Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann. Other executive producers include Carolyn Strauss, Evan Wells, Asad Qizilbash, Carter Swan and Rose Lam.
The show’s fifth episode will debut early on HBO Max and HBO On Demand on Friday at 9 p.m. ET and make its linear premiere on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET – competing with Super Bowl LVII. In January, “The Last of Us” was renewed for a second season.
“The Last of Us” airs weekly on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and is streaming on HBO Max.