‘The Last of Us’ Episode 5 Will Land on HBO Max Early, Avoiding Super Bowl Competition

Episode 5 of “The Last of Us” will begin streaming on HBO Max on Friday, Feb. 10 at 9 p.m. ET, two days before the the series’ regularly scheduled Sunday night airing on HBO — which, on Feb. 12, coincides with the Super Bowl.

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 5 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.

HBO is known for eventizing its programming with Sunday drops, though this is not the first time the network has shifted its schedule to avoid competing with the Super Bowl.

“The Last of Us” has been a major viewership success for HBO. With 4.7 million viewers, its first episode was the network’s second-most watched series premiere in over ten years, second only to “House of the Dragon,” which had the advantage of being a sequel to the long-running and wildly popular “Game of Thrones.” Episode 2 brought in 5.7 million viewers, a 22% jump that marked the largest growth from premiere to second episode that HBO has ever had. And Episode 3’s 6.4 million viewers heralded a major accomplishment for HBO as a whole, which for the first time has four current series tracking at over 15 million viewers per episode when accounting for delayed viewership: “The Last of Us,” “House of the Dragon,” “The White Lotus” and “Euphoria.”

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