If you thought the dragons were big on Game of Thrones just wait until you hear about its ratings.
The HBO drama returned on Sunday, July 16 to a massive record-making audience for the cable channel. Without additional means of watching, the first-run telecast had 10.1 million viewers. With DVR viewing, streaming and repeats night off, the audience for Game of Thrones' season seven premiere is at 16.1 million viewers—right now.
The season seven one-day numbers are a series high for Game of Thrones. For comparison, Game of Thrones' season six debut had 10.7 million viewers with streaming numbers factored in.
Expect the audience number to grow exponentially; especially as additional DVR viewing and streaming numbers grow.
The gap between Game of Thrones season six and season seven was the longest the show ever faced, clocking in at more than a year between the season six finale and the season seven premiere. The HBO fantasy series also debuted a good three months after its normal April premiere date.
Co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wrote the premiere with Jeremy Podeswa directing. The next episode, "Stormborn," was written by Bryan Cogman and directed by Mark Mylod. HBO's official description of what's to come in the Sunday, July 13 episode: "Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) receives an unexpected visitor. Jon (Kit Harington) faces a revolt. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) plans the conquest of Westeros."
For more on the Game of Thrones season seven premiere, read E! News' recap of the major action kicking off the penultimate season. Game of Thrones season eight will be the show's last, but it might not be the last Game of Thrones series for HBO. The cable channel is working on a number of spinoffs—prequels really—not about existing characters.