HBO’s series adaptation of hit PlayStation game “The Last of Us” premiered Sunday, drawing the premium cable channel’s second-biggest debut of the last 13 years, behind only “House of the Dragon.”
Per Nielsen ratings and Warner Bros. Discovery’s own first party data, the first episode of the Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey-led drama scored 4.7 million U.S. viewers across both the linear HBO channel and streamer HBO Max.
That figure makes the “The Last of Us” premiere the second-largest opening for an HBO show since “Boardwalk Empire” premiere in 2010, well before HBO Max had launched and even before its predecessor streamers, HBO Go and HBO Now, were widely available to customers.
The only series premiere that tops “The Last of Us” during that time span — which saw the debuts of “Game of Thrones,” “True Detective,” “The Leftovers,” “Westworld,” “Silicon Valley,” “Veep,” “Succession,” “Euphoria” and “Chernobyl,” among other HBO hits — is “House of the Dragon,” which launched last summer to nearly 10 million viewers. “Game of Thrones” itself garnered jut 4.2 million premiere viewers in 2011.
Additionally, the Sunday numbers for “The Last of Us” were nearly double the Season 2 premiere night returns for “Euphoria,” HBO’s biggest modern-day hit next to “House of the Dragon.”
HBO notes that “Sunday night viewership for an HBO series typically represents 20%-40% of the show’s total gross audience per episode,” so the show is expected to grow from here.
“We are thrilled to see fans of the series and game alike experience this iconic story in a new way, and we extend our gratitude to them for helping to make it a success,” Casey Bloys, chairman and CEO of HBO & HBO Max Content, said. “Congratulations to Craig, Neil and the brilliant cast and crew who worked tirelessly to bring this show to life. We look forward to fans around the world enjoying the rest of the season.”
“Our focus was simply to make the best possible adaptation of this beloved story for as big an audience as we could,” executive producers Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann added. “We are overjoyed to see how many fans, both old and new, have welcomed ‘The Last of Us’ into their homes and their hearts.”
“The Last of Us” is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television and is executive produced by Mazin, Druckmann, Carolyn Strauss, Evan Wells, Asad Qizilbash, Carter Swan and Rose Lam. Sony Pictures Television produces alongside PlayStation Productions, Word Games, The Mighty Mint and “Last of Us” video game studio Naughty Dog.
New episodes debut Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO and HBO Max, leading up to the finale on March 12.