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17.4 million Americans watched the first episode of Game of Thrones

17.4 million Americans watched the first episode of the final season of television’s Game of Thrones, a record audience for the medieval fantasy series, cable channel HBO said on Monday.

HBO said Sunday’s live US television audience and viewers on its HBO GO and HBO NOW apps exceeded the previous series high of 16.9 million viewers for the Season 7 finale two years ago.

On social media, Sunday’s premiere was also the most-tweeted-about episode of the show ever, with more than 5 million Tweets, and 11 million mentions throughout the course of the weekend, HBO said in a statement.

The series set among warring families in the fictional kingdom of Westeros, which began in 2007, has become HBO’s biggest hit.

Season 7 averaged 32.8 million U.S. viewers per episode when delayed viewing was counted and HBO said it expected the Season 8 average to “grow considerably”.

Details of the final season have been kept a closely guarded secret, boosting anticipation.

Despite its avid fan base, Game of Thrones is far from the biggest television event in the United States. The annual NFL Super Bowl attracts about 100 million viewers and the 2019 Oscars ceremony in February was watched on television by 29.6 million Americans.

The final episode of Game of Thrones will air on May 19.

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