The Last of Us is averaging over 20 million viewers per episode. That’s bigger ratings than the Grammys and the Oscars. Not the Super Bowl, though. HBO didn’t move episode four away from Music’s Biggest Night, and the season finale is still scheduled against the 95th Academy Awards on March 12th, but episode five will premiere early to avoid competing against the one time a year everyone is watching live television.
Episode five of The Last of Us will be available on HBO Max on Friday, February 10th, at 9 p.m. EST, followed by an HBO broadcast at its regular time on Sunday — when everyone will be watching the Eagles vs. Chiefs, or the halftime show with Rihanna.
It’s a smart decision, as Variety explains:
A large fraction of viewership for HBO shows comes from streaming on HBO Max. In the case of House of the Dragon, which is the most recent comparable HBO series in terms of audience size, approximately two-thirds of viewers in the first night of each episode chose to stream rather than tuning in live. By giving those viewers access to The Last of Us episode five before Feb. 12, HBO will avoid losing out too much of its night-one audience like it would with a Sunday premiere — as the Super Bowl is typically the most-watched television event of the year, and draws viewers away from several other programs.
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Last year’s Super Bowl was watched by 112.3 million viewers. The Last of Us is popular, but not that popular. You’ll still have to make a tough choice on Friday, though: The Last of Us or Magic Mike’s Last Dance?