Season five of ‘Game of Thrones’ started with a record-breaking 8 million viewers when it premiered in April. Since then, the numbers for this season have been dropping steadily.
After the premiere, episode two dropped nearly 1.2 million viewers. By episode six, the total number tuning in was down to 6.2 million. This past weekend’s episode seven, which, granted, fell on Memorial Day Weekend, dropped even more significantly to 5.4 million viewers.
While it’s not unusual for a season to dip after the premiere before trending back upward toward the finale, the HBO series has had a pretty solid track record across each season.
The pattern for past seasons usually goes something like this: solid premiere viewings followed by a slow, but steady gain of momentum through to the finale. Historically, the finale episodes of each season have beaten the premiere for total number of viewers.
So far, season five is failing to meet these marks.
Here’s a look at viewership for every episode by season from Nielsen rating side by side. Season five is in red.
Why is viewership on the decline this season?
There are a lot of factors to consider. Look at the sharp decline in viewership over the past episode.
As we noted, it was a holiday weekend; however, episode six of the current season received a lot of heavy backlash after a storyline saw a popular character get sexually assaulted by her new husband on their wedding night. This has become a common occurrence in the series, and, in response, there has been a huge outcry from fans.
It even prompted a senator to publicly announce she is no longer watching “Game of Thrones” due to the ‘gratuitous’ rape. The storyline has been one of many divergences that have upset fans over the course of the season.
It’s also worth noting the first four episodes of the new season were leaked just days before its April premiere. (However, leaks have always been a problem with “Game of Thrones.” The series is only the most-pirated show on television year after year.)
HBO confirms to Business Insider the network is seeing a rise in its streaming services for season five, but the network does not release numbers for individual platforms.