Sunday (June 15) night's fourth season finale for "Game of Thrones" was up significantly over last summer's finale, but fell short of delivering series highs for the acclaimed drama.
Titled "The Children," Sunday's season-ender drew an estimated 7.1 million viewers in its initial 9 p.m. airing, up by 32 percent over last season's finale. With two additional plays, the "Game of Thrones" finale rose to 9.3 million viewers for the night.
The initial airing audience is a hair below the 7.2 million viewers drawn by several spring episodes. There was, in fact, a stretch of weeks to start the season when every episode was setting a new high. Last year's finale drew 5.4 million viewers for its first airing, up from 4.2 million in 2012 and 3 million in 2011.
The 9.3 million figure for the night tops other one-night totals for the season, but the caveat would be that there was an extra encore last night since HBO didn't have any originals in the 10 p.m. hour.
For the season, the 9 p.m. "Game of Thrones" episodes have averaged 6.8 million viewers, up by 37 percent from last season. The average gross audience for the season -- including all replays, HBOGo views and OnDemand plays and whatnot -- stands at 18.6 million viewers, up by 29 percent over last season. As we've already discussed, that makes this "Game of Thrones" season HBO's most watched season ever, by this limited measurement.
In announcing the "Game of Thrones" finale numbers, HBO also revealed a few other average gross audience figures for the spring. "Silicon Valley" averaged 5.7 million viewers in that measurement, making it the network's most viewed current half-hour. "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" is averaging a 4 million viewers in gross audience tallies. In addition, the average gross audience for the acclaimed telefilm "The Normal Heart" stands at 4.3 million, up by 355 percent since its premiere.