Yesterday, reports began surfacing that an approximated one-billion viewers tuned in to watch the season premiere of Game Of Thrones. Given that that's nearly one-seventh of the world's population, such claims felt like a blurred out puzzle, whereupon many key pieces were missing. Still, there's likely fire where there's smoke. Given the sheer number of worldwide pirates operating beyond the traditional means of streaming via HBO, the multiple people holding it down for viewing parties, and the cooperative nature of a Thrones screening night, the real ratings likely lie somewhere beyond the projected Neilsen ratings.

Yet now, the official ratings have been revealed, as documented through traditional means of HBO's rating tracking system. CNN reports that a record-setting 17.4 million viewers tuned in to the initial airing and the subsequent encore airings, both on television or HBO Go and HBO Now. In fact, HBO has revealed that Thrones brought in the "largest night of streaming activity ever for HBO." Granted, that's significantly fewer than the Dr. Evil-esque "one billion" number that was floating around, but it also doesn't factor in the myriad pirates that likely had their way upon the show's release. 

The "billion" number previously found itself floating around Thrones last season, when WinterIsComing reported that over one billion had pirated the seven-episode season. They cite a subsequent report from tech company Muso, who share data pertaining to the Season 7 premiere "Dragonstone". “Within the first 72 hours of broadcast, the Season seven premiere was downloaded and streamed over 90 million times," writes the report. This was eclipsed by the season finale which accumulated more than 120 million downloads and streams (in 72 hours).” When "Dragonstone" aired, HBO reported 10.11 million viewers tuned in to watch. If you consider both the jump in official numbers and the aforementioned illegal numbers, it's possible that Season 8's "Winterfell" enjoyed a significant boost in the illegal market. 

Either way you spin it, the numbers are truly massive. Have you tuned in to Game Of Thrones? If you can't wait for next week, check out the "Next Week On" teaser right here