‘The Final of Us’ Rankings HBO’s Greatest-Ever Viewership Enlargement for a Drama From Premiere to Episode 2

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After achieving HBO’s second-most watched series premiere in more than a decade, “The Last of Us” is now reaching an even bigger audience and breaking a new record for the pay TV channel.

According to measurements by Nielsen combined with first-party data from Warner Bros. Discovery, Episode 2 brought in 5.7 million viewers across linear airings on HBO and streams on HBO Max. That marks a 22% increase from last week’s record-breaking 4.7 million, a number that Warner Bros. Discovery later reported had already jumped to 10 million after two days of availability.

Per HBO, the jump from the initial premiere viewership to Episode 2’s debut audience is the “largest week 2 audience growth for an HBO Original drama series in the history of the network.”

The network also offered yet another update regarding the series premiere’s viewership, stating that “after one full week of availability, Episode 1 is now tracking at 18 million viewers, up nearly 4x from its premiere night audience.”

The immediate popularity of “The Last of Us” is unsurprising, as the drama series is an adaptation of the megahit video game of the same name that has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. The only comparable HBO series in recent memory is “House of the Dragon,” the “Game of Thrones” sequel series that debuted in August of 2022. Both series have significantly outperformed the launch of both seasons of “Euphoria,” which became HBO’s second biggest series of all time after “Game of Thrones” during its second season in early 2022.

(For comparison, “Euphoria” Season 2 premiered to 2.4 million viewers and grew to 6.6 million by its finale, though it should be noted that “House of the Dragon” and “The Last of Us” had the benefit of debuting as parts of franchises with already-established fanbases.)

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HBO noted last week that “Sunday night viewership for an HBO series typically represents 20%-40% of the show’s total gross audience per episode.” Therefore, it can be expected that “The Last of Us” Episode 2, titled “Infected,” will hit another milestone soon.

Set 20 years after the destruction of modern civilization, “The Last of Us” stars Pedro Pascal as Joel, a hardened survivor who is hired to smuggle 14-year-old Ellie (Bella Ramsey) out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.

“The Last of Us” is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television. Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann write the series and serve as executive producers along with Carolyn Strauss, Evan Wells, Asad Qizilbash, Carter Swan and Rose Lam. The original video game was developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer for PlayStation platforms. PlayStation Productions and Naughty Dog both produce the series along with Word Games and the Mighty Mint.