‘The Last of Us’ becomes HBO’s second-biggest premiere in over a decade

Photo via HBO

The Sunday premiere of The Last of Us achieved huge viewership numbers, making it the second-biggest debut in the last 13 years.

In a report from Variety, the Nielsen ratings and Warner Bros Discovery’s first-party data confirms that the long-awaited TV series adaption of the video game reached 4.7 million U.S. viewers across the HBO channel and the HBO Max streaming service. This only puts it behind the series premiere of House of the Dragon, which reached 10 million viewers. It’s not a bad start at all.

The Last of Us stars Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian) as Joel and Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) as Ellie. The world has been ravaged by a parasitic fungal infection that turns people into vicious zombies and all hope seems lost until Joel meets Ellie, a girl who could be the key to saving the world.

HBO has stated that the Sunday night viewership for its shows usually accounts for 20%-40% of the show’s total gross audience per episode, so The Last of Us is expected to increase in viewership weekly. House of the Dragon had a 2% increase following its season premiere, drawing in 10.2 million viewers across all platforms that Sunday, and maintained high numbers throughout its first season. With all the positive word of mouth for The Last of Us, it wouldn’t be surprising if it followed a similar trend.

The video game series and the general response to the first episode have been overwhelmingly positive, so these high ratings are yet another success for the franchise. Live-action adaptions of video games often pale in comparison to the source material, but this series has managed to avert the dreaded label. It helps that the video game writer, Neil Druckman, is writing and executive producing the series alongside Chernobyl writer Craig Mazin.

Said Mazin, “Our focus was simply to make the best possible adaptation of this beloved story for as big an audience as we could,” and Druckman 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 available to stream from HBO Max, with new episodes dropping weekly.