All hail HBO’s Game of Thrones. The fourth-season premiere of the fantasy delivered the show’s biggest audience yet: 6.6 million viewers. That makes Sunday’s Thrones HBO’s most-watched program since The Sopranos’ series finale in 2007. Two replays of the Thrones episode drove the show’s full-night tally up to 8.2 million viewers.
By comparison, season 3 opened to 4.4 million viewers and eventually peaked at 5.5 million for the sixth episode (no, the Red Wedding was not a record high, and nor was the finale, which delivered 5.4 million).
Last season Thrones averaged 14.4 million viewers per episode including DVR and streaming, second only to The Sopranos as HBO’s most-watched series. This year, Thrones might very well overtake the classic mob drama to claim the premium cable network’s all-time crown, especially given its history of growing its audience as a season progresses.
Online viewership was also immense as HBO Go, the pay cabler’s streaming service, crashed during the premiere with many receiving a “fatal error” message, which HBO attributed to “overwhelming demand.”
For EW’s Game of Thrones season premiere coverage, see our recap, “A Storm of Swords and Swingers,” and our interview with Maisie Williams and showrunners on Arya’s dark twist.
The series premiere of Mike Judge’s new comedy series Silicon Valley had 2 million viewers, HBO’s largest half-hour series debut in nearly five years (since 2009′s Hung). Another 534,000 viewers over two replays brought the night’s total gross audience for the new comedy to 2.5 million viewers. Veep‘s third season premiere launched to 995,000 viewers, about the same as last year’s premiere.