Get a load of Sunday's initial numbers if you thought the last "Last of Us" — also known as the HBO drama's series premiere — drew a large following.
According to Nielsen data and HBO's internal streaming metrics, Episode 2 of 'The Last of Us' landed 5.7 million viewers on Sunday night, up 1 million viewers — or +22 percent — over the previous weekend's series debut. This is the largest week 2 audience increase for an HBO original drama in the network's history, so IndieWire looked deeper into the archives for context.
"Hung," a comedy, saw an increase of nearly 41 percent from its own series premiere in 2009. Episode 101 drew 3.7 million viewers; 102 drew 5.2 million viewers. At the time, linear HBO was the only option for the programming, and word-of-mouth still mostly happened by mouth. (HBO Go launched in 2010, HBO Now in 2015, and HBO Max in 2020.)
On the premiere night, streaming reigns supreme, and the water cooler is really just social media, which only quashes all the wrong things. However, "The Last of Us" episode 101 trended No. 1 in both the United States and worldwide.
Within 24 hours of its episode 1, the companion podcast reached the top spot on Apple's TV & Film chart in the United States. Troy Baker plays Joel Miller in the PlayStation games, a role now filled by Pedro Pascal on television.
On its first premiere night, January 15, 2023, the first "Last of Us" episode attracted 4.7 million viewers, surpassing only "House of the Dragon," after "Boardwalk Empire."
HBO recognized this in some ways: teasers and teases for "The Last of Us" amassed more than 100 million views worldwide before Nielsen was even able to measure the actual television episode.
Neil Druckmann's comments on the set of "The Last of Us"
After 'The Last of Us' became a household name, HBO & HBO Max Content chairman and CEO Casey Bloys expressed her thanks to the talented cast and crew who worked tirelessly to bring the program to life. We look forward to seeing customers around the world enjoy the rest of the season.
The Last of Us has a 97% rating among critics and 96 percent among the general public; both are by Steve Greene; both are based on an episode of IndieWire. For more information on why "The Last of Us" is so popular during a lengthy history, check out our interview with the PlayStation Productions executives here.
The first episode of HBO's "The Last of Us" has more than doubled in one day, with an estimated 18 million viewers on all platforms, according to the premium-cable platform. So far, the "Last of Us" series premiere began with about 26 percent of its audience on Night 1; that will continue to decline as time goes on.
"The Last of Us" is a Sony PlayStation video game adaptation. The game and show take place in the aftermath of a global pandemic that has destroyed civilization. The series follows Joel Miller, who takes charge of humanity's last hope, a 14-year-old girl named Ellie (Bella Ramsey).
On HBO Max, new episodes of "The Last of Us" will be available on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT and are available to stream on HBO Max. The Season 1 finale will be held on March 12.