The ratings for The Last of Us were top notch
No apocalypse here: “The Last of Us” is soon to become one of HBO’s highest-rated series, both by Nielsen and TV critics.
If you thought the last “Last of Us,” aka the series premiere of the HBO drama, scored a big audience, judging from Sunday’s opening numbers.
“The Last of Us” episode 2 was watched by 5.7 million viewers Sunday night in the U.S., according to Nielsen data and HBO’s internal streaming metrics, up 1 million viewers — or +22 percent — from the previous weekend’s series. This increase (on a percentage basis) marks the largest week 2 audience increase for an HBO original drama in the network’s history. Drama is the key word here, so IndieWire dug a little deeper into the archives for context.
In 2009, the comedy “Hung” had a bigger 2nd week, up nearly 41 percent from its own series premiere. “Hung” episode 101 attracted 3.7 million viewers; 102 viewers rose to 5.2 million. These “Hung” episodes followed the Season 2 episodes of the vampire drama “True Blood.” At the time, linear HBO was the only option for programming, and word of mouth was still mostly word of mouth. (HBO Go launched in 2010, HBO Now in 2015, and HBO Max in 2020.)
Streaming rules these days, and the water cooler is really just social media, which really only dampens the bad stuff. However, there, “The Last of Us” episode 101 was number one in both the US and worldwide on its premiere night.
In addition to the success of the show companion podcast Within 24 hours of its release, Episode 1 reached number one on the Apple TV & Film charts in the United States. The podcast is hosted by Troy Baker, who plays “Last of Us” hero Joel Miller in the PlayStation games, now playing Pedro Pascal on TV.
The first “Last of Us” episode reached 4.7 million viewers on its premiere night, January 15, 2023. This made it HBO’s second-biggest debut behind only “Ho.”U.Se to the Dragon,” since “Boardwalk Empire” bowed in 2010.
HBO has seen this happen to some extent, with trailers and previews for “The Last of Us” racking up more than 100 million views worldwide before Nielsen could measure the actual television episode.
Courtesy of HBO
“We are very excited to see the fans to both the series and the game bring this iconic story to life in a new way, and we thank them for helping to make it a success,” said Casey Bloys, president and CEO of HBO & HBO Max Content, after “The Last of Us.” ” entered the HBO record book for the first time. “Congratulations to (executive producers Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin) and the brilliant cast and crew who worked tirelessly to bring the show to life. We welcome fans around the world who are enjoying the rest to the season.”
To enjoy OK. As of right now, “The Last of Us” has a 97 percent rating Rotten tomatoes among critics; 96 percent of the audience. IndieWire rated the HBO adaptation as (at least) the best video game adaptation in recent memory; read our review of episode 1 here. Our review for Episode 2 is here; both by Steve Greene. And if you want to know what (probably) makes “The Last of Us” so great amid such a floundering history, read our interview with PlayStation Productions executives here.
A day later, the debut episode of “The Last of Us” more than doubled to just north of 10 million viewers, per HBO. According to the premium cable platform, Episode 1 has a full week to go, with an estimated 18 million viewers across all platforms. According to HBO, its Sunday shows typically “reach between 20 and 40 percent of their total gross audience per episode” on premiere night. So far, the series premiere of “Last of Us” has opened with about 26 percent of the audience on Night 1; this will decrease over time – and with catch-up viewing.
“The Last of Us” is an adaptation of the hit Sony PlayStation video game franchise series. The game and the show take place in the aftermath of a global pandemic that destroyed civilization. The series follows hardened survivor Joel Miller, who controls humanity’s last hope, 14-year-old Ellie (Bella Ramsey). Gabriel Luna also stars.
New episodes of “The Last of Us” debut every Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO and can be streamed on HBO Max. The season 1 finale will be on March 12.
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