news ‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 5 to Debut on HBO Max Early Ahead of Super Bowl

The Chiefs and the Eagles won’t have to worry about HBO stealing their spotlight. “The Last of Us” will premiere its fifth episode early on HBO Max and on demand Friday, February 10 at 9 p.m. ET, two days before its broadcast premiere.

Although the episode will still premiere on HBO’s linear channel on Sunday, February 12 at 9 p.m. ET, the early streaming premiere is almost certainly intended to avoid a situation where the episode’s ratings get cannibalized by Super Bowl viewing. The annual sports event is typically one of the highest-rated broadcasts each year, with last year seeing 112.3 million total viewers on NBC and streaming. This year’s game — which sees the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs compete and Rihanna headline the iconic halftime show — will air on Fox, and is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

“The Last of Us” has been an immediate ratings success since it premiered on HBO last month; its first episode drew 4.7 million viewers in its first day of availability, and has since grown to 22 million viewers in the domestic United States. The video game adaptation’s succeeding episodes have seen steadily increasing viewership, with Episode 2 drawing 5.7 million viewers and Episode 3 reaching 6.4 million.

Aside from the Super Bowl, “The Last of Us” will air concurrently alongside a couple of other major broadcast events. This Sunday’s episode aired alongside the Grammy Awards hosted by Trevor Noah, which aired on CBS and streamed on Paramount+. On March 12, the series will premiere its Season 1 finale concurrently with the 95th Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and set to air on ABC. According to HBO, the series will revert to premiering episodes on HBO concurrently with its linear airing following the fifth episode, so presumably, the network isn’t as worried about competing with the Oscars for ratings glory.

Based on the 2013 video game developed by Naughty Dog for PlayStation 3, “The Last of Us” stars former “Game of Thrones” cast members Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey as Joel and Ellie, the main player characters of the original video game. Set in a post-apocalyptic United States where the world has been ravaged by a fungal infection outbreak, the story follows Joel, a smuggler working in Boston, as he is tasked with protecting 14-year-old Ellie on a trip across the country. The show, which is co-showrun by original game creator Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin, has already been renewed for a Season 2.