The Battle of Winterfell delivers record-breaking TV ratings

Of its 17.4 million viewers, 12.02 million were watching the third episode of the final season, The Long Night, on the main HBO channel.

By comparison, the first episode of the season drew 11.8 million viewers to the main HBO channel, and 17.4 million across the main channel and the two HBO streaming platforms.

To get a sense of how many viewers Game of Thrones episodes draw across a longer arc, fuelled by on-demand plays on the two streaming platforms in the two weeks since its airing, that first episode has now been seen by 38 million viewers.

Australian ratings data will be released on Wednesday.

The season eight premiere on Foxtel in Australia two weeks ago drew 1.29 million viewers nationally, a lift of 17 per cent compared to the premiere episode of the preceding season.

The most dramatic audience trend in the Australian ratings data was a sharp spike in the use of streaming as a source of delivery, a lift of almost 700 per cent in less than two years, reflecting the sharp uptake of streaming in the market.

The highly anticipated Battle of Winterfell.

The highly anticipated Battle of Winterfell.Credit:HBO

The Long Night, which drew praise for its unprecedented battle sequence but also criticism for the decision to shoot most of the battle in semi-darkness, clocked in at 82 minutes in length.

In a break with past custom, HBO gave producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss freedom to deliver the episodes of the final season at whatever length they needed; as a result the final six episodes range in duration from 54 to 82 minutes.

The series finale, scheduled for May 19, will be followed by a two-hour documentary titled Game of Thrones: The Last Watch, which will go behind the scenes of the filming of the final season.

The final season of Game of Thrones airs on Mondays at 11am on Foxtel.

Michael Idato is entertainment editor-at-large of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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