Episode 4 of “The Last of Us” set yet another series high. 7.5 million viewers tuned into Sunday night’s episode, up 17% from the 6.4 million that tuned into Episode 3.
That the show’s audience is still growing at this point is an especially impressive feat, as Episode 4 aired on HBO and released on HBO Max during the telecast of the 65th Grammys, which brought in 12.4 million viewers, its highest audience since 2020. Still, a major contingent of viewers chose to watch “The Last of Us” instead, or chose to stream the new episode after the three-hour-long awards show.
Additionally of note is that “The Last of Us” is on more rapidly inclining trajectory than “House of the Dragon,” which is HBO’s most recent comparable series in terms of viewership. Though “House of the Dragon” premiered with almost 10 million viewers and “The Last of Us” has yet to reach that point, it’s notable that the cable viewership of “House of the Dragon” dropped significantly by its third episode before steadying out for the rest of its run. (Total viewership including streaming was not available for Episodes 3-9 of “House of the Dragon.”)
The fifth episode of “The Last of Us” will also run into some major competition — the Super Bowl, typically the most-viewed telecast of the year — though HBO has mitigated that problem with a new release strategy. The network announced on Sunday that Episode 5 will release on HBO Max on Friday, Feb. 10, two days before the linear airing. This will allow viewers the full weekend to watch the episode before the big game.
Given the early streaming debut and the overall success of the series so far, it seems that “The Last of Us” may still be able to outdo itself next week. Last year, “Euphoria” aired the sixth episode of its second season in competition with the Super Bowl — without adjusting its streaming calendar — and still achieved a series high, and “The Last of Us” has outpaced “Euphoria’s” audience by millions.
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