Game Of Thrones slays viewership record

NEW YORK • The Season 6 finale for Game Of Thrones drew the largest audience in the history of the series, with 8.9 million viewers tuning into HBO on Sunday night, according to Nielsen.

That breaks the record for the series that was previously held by the fifth-season finale last year, of 8.1 million viewers.

In the coming week, those numbers are expected to rise as more people watch it on demand or on HBO's stand-alone app, HBO Now.

The premium cable channel said the total audience for Game Of Thrones this season - when factoring in original telecasts, encores, on-demand and streaming data - is averaging 23.3 million viewers a week, a 15 per cent bump versus last year's figure, according to USA Today.

News of the TV show's ratings come a week after HBO announced that it was cancelling Vinyl after one season, a decision that underscored the network's recent difficulties in landing another hit drama.

HBO has not confirmed how many more seasons or episodes are left for Game Of Thrones, but the show's creators have said that there would be two slightly shorter seasons, amounting to perhaps 13 additional episodes.

In an interview with entertainment website Deadline Hollywood, the show's creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss said the end is near.

"It's two more seasons we're talking about," Benioff was quoted as saying on Monday. "From pretty close to the beginning, we talked about doing this in 70 to 75 hours, and that's what we'll end up with. Call it 73 for now."

They said their intention was to tell one cohesive story and not overstay their welcome.

"We've known the end for quite some time and we're hurtling towards it," said Benioff. "We're definitely heading into the end game now."

This means 13 episodes remain, with rumours saying that season seven will feature seven episodes and, season eight, just six.

Season 6 was the first time the show moved almost entirely past the source material from George R.R. Martin's books.

The finale, and the season overall, received strong reviews from critics, including The New York Times' James Poniewozik, who wrote: "If this was not the series' best season, it was its most flat-out entertaining."

NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2016, with the headline 'Game Of Thrones slays viewership record'. Print Edition | Subscribe