Originally posted on Variety:
HBO’s “Game of Thrones” returned in a big way Sunday, soaring to a series record and drawing some of the premium cabler’s best numbers in years.
The HBO series produces just 10 episodes a year, so each one is a precious gem to its fans. After waiting more than nine months for a fresh hour, roughly 6.6 million of them showed up for its fourth-season premiere — up 50% from its year-ago opener (4.37 million) and triple the 2.2 million who watched the show’s inaugural telecast in April 2011.
It was also up 22% more than the audience for the show’s third-season finale last June (5.39 million).
This is the largest audience for any HBO program since the finale of “The Sopranos,” which drew 11.9 million in 2007. The highest in recent years had been 5.53 million for “True Blood” in August 2011.
The previous high for “Thrones” was 5.5…
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