HBO is doing everything it can to ensure that “The Last of Us” will be the network’s next big hit.
That includes deviating from its original broadcast schedule to avoid putting its post-apocalyptic drama up against the biggest event on the North American sports calendar.
HBO announced in a press release that the fifth episode of “The Last of Us” would air on Friday, Feb. 10 at 9 p.m. ET. The network announced that this would be a one-time move and that all other episodes of the series would air on Sundays.
New episodes of the series will continue to air Sundays at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max, leading up to the season finale on March 12.
Here’s everything to know about “The Last of Us” episode five and how the 2023 Super Bowl impacted its broadcast schedule.
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The Last of Us Episode 5 release date
Date: Friday, February 10
Time: 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT)
The fifth episode of “The Last of Us” is no longer set to air on Sunday, Feb. 12. Instead, it will debut two days earlier on Friday, Feb. 10 in an effort to avoid competing with the Super Bowl 57 clash between the Eagles and Chiefs.
Why is The Last of Us Episode 5 airing on Friday?
HBO moved the premiere of “The Last of Us” episode five to Friday to avoid competing directly head-to-head with the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday. The program is slated to run for about four hours thanks to the elaborate pregame ceremonies and extended halftime as well as the postgame trophy presentation and speeches.
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“The Last of Us” usually airs its new episodes from 9 p.m. ET to 10 p.m. ET on Sundays. So, even if the Super Bowl runs shorter than usual, it wouldn’t be quick enough for viewers to catch the end of the big game and the premiere of the episode.
HBO could have opted to air episode five after the Super Bowl but likely would have missed out on critical east-coast viewership, given that the episode’s start time would probably have to be 11 p.m. ET to avoid the end of the Super Bowl window. As such, moving the episode’s premiere to Friday was a better choice for the company in terms of maximizing viewership.
Thus far, viewership for “The Last of Us” has peaked at a maximum of 7.5 million (per Variety) during the release of its fourth episode, which was competing directly with the Grammys. Comparatively, the 2022 Super Bowl between the Rams and Bengals averaged 99.18 million viewers, per SportsMediaWatch.com.
So, it’s easy to understand why HBO made the decision that it did. And fans of both the NFL and “The Last of Us” will surely be glad that the network made the change.
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The Last of Us Episode 5 trailer
Below is a look at the trailer for “The Last of Us” episode five, during which Joel and Ellie will look to escape the trouble they got into in Kansas City.