Kit Harington as Jon Snow in "Game of Thrones". Picture: HBO

Los Angeles— The first episode of the final season of "Game of Thrones" is a record-breaker for the series and HBO.

The pay channel said the 17.4 million viewers who watched Sunday's episode either on TV or online represent a season-opening high for the fantasy saga.

HBO Now also posted its biggest streaming night ever, the channel said Monday.

The episode topped the 16.1 million who saw the seventh-season premiere and the 16.9 million who watched that season's finale.

Reflecting increasing audience fondness for streaming, HBO saw about a 50 percent increase in online viewing compared to last season's finale. In comparison to the season-seven premiere, the streaming audience nearly doubled.

"Game of Thrones" ultimately averaged 32.8 million viewers per episode last season in cumulative TV and online viewership, HBO said.

AP

Where to watch "Game of Thrones" 

Watch it on Mondays at 3am on  (repeat at 10pm) on M-Net, or straight after with the   DStv Now app  . 

You can also binge-watch all previous seasons of "Game of Thrones" on Showmax. Sign up for a 14-day free trial at Showmax.com