Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook, and Jeremy Strong in HBO's "Succession" series finale

The ‘Succession’ finale set an audience record for the series, but…

The series finale of “Succession” set a new viewership record — for itself — on Sunday, despite the Memorial Day holiday and a particularly long running time (88 minutes). So that’s fine. But, and so as not to rain on the parade here, the record now (and forever) is *only* 2.928 million.

It’s 68 percent better than the season three finale (1.7 million) and that’s excellent for an episode of “Succession” on its debut day, but it’s less than half what another recent success story from HBO, “The Last of Us”, would get on a regular basis. And it’s certainly not “Game of Thrones,” although what is? (We’re not going to make HBO miserable and go back to the days of “The Sopranos” — it’s a completely different era with completely conflicting TV viewing habits, and a direct comparison would be wildly unfair.)

While there was certainly a little more motivation to tune in “live” to the “Succession” finale (like, who ends up being the successor?!?), multiples of more viewers will consume it based on delayed viewing. That’s just the nature of television consumption in the streaming age. Including delayed viewing, Season 4 episodes of “Succession” currently average 8.7 million viewers, which is about 40 percent higher than last season’s average.

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Previously, the biggest Sunday hit for “Succession” came from episode 406, which attracted 2.75 million that night. Since then and so far, the episodes have hovered around 2.7 million viewers.

There’s an important distinction to be made here between those very different groups of viewership numbers, both coming directly from HBO. THE Sunday the record has linear and streaming viewers only on the night an episode premieres. The 8.8 million average we mentioned above includes night and catch-up viewing of one episode during the season. It’s a generous and self-congratulatory way of looking at things, but not exactly an unfair one. It also beats the expectation on Nielsen measurement, which can (and has, in recent years) underestimated viewers.

For example: episode 406 had a record 2.75 million viewers on April 30; which, plus any viewers from May 1 to May 29, would count towards HBO’s final number for the episode.

1685469810 908 The Succession finale set an audience record for the series |

Last night’s long ‘Succession’ ending meant that the ‘Barry’ series finale didn’t start until 10.30pm. The fourth and final season of “Barry” averaged 3.4 million viewers, including all that delayed viewing. The finale drew 700,000 Sunday viewers, up 13% from the season three finale.

Over the next few days and weeks we will receive late viewing stats; pretty much whenever HBO feels like sharing its internal maximum numbers.