'Game of Thrones' premiere is HBO's top program since the 'Sopranos' finale
Don't stop believing in the ratings power of HBO's "Game of Thrones."
Sunday (April 6) night's Season 4 premiere attracted HBO's biggest audience since the series finale of a little show called "The Sopranos."
Now, let's be clear: "Game of Thrones" didn't come close to equalling the numbers that turned out to bid farewell to Tony Soprano, but HBO is still feeling pretty good about the latest premiere numbers.
In its first 9 p.m. airing on Sunday, "Game of Thrones" averaged 6.6 million viewers, up by 52 percent over last spring's premiere and up by 23 percent over the Season 3 finale. An additional 1.6 million viewers caught replays at 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. bringing the first night number to 8.2 million. Even with all of those combined airings, "Game of Thrones" was still far behind the 11.9 million viewers who watched the 2007 "Sopranos" finale.
HBO says the "average gross audience" for the third season of "Game of Thrones" -- that's all on-air showings, OnDemand, HBOGo and all that stuff -- was 14.4 million.
Naturally, the "Game of Thrones" premiere had a strong ripple for "Silicon Valley," which averaged 2 million viewers in its first airing and added 534,000 in subsequent encores. This was HBO's biggest half-hour debut since "Hung" averaged 2.8 million viewers in 2009.
Things were a bit less robust for "Veep," which averaged 955,000 viewers in its 10:30 airing, actually down by 3 percent from last season's finale. "Veep" added 539,000 in two subsequent airings for an opening night of 1.5 million viewers. HBO notes that "Veep" had an "average gross audience" of 3.9 million viewers per episode last season.
Showtime is also feeling good about its Sunday numbers.
The network says the fourth season finale for "Shameless" drew 1.93 million viewers in its 9 p.m. airing and 2.83 million viewers for the night. It was the show's best total night ever and the biggest audience yet for a "Shameless" finale. Wrapping its third season, "House of Lies" drew 731,000 viewers in its 10 p.m. airing and 1.4 million for the night, up 16 percent from the second season finale.
For the season, "Shameless" averaged 5.7 million viewers through various airings and secondary streams, up 7 percent over last year. "House of Lies" averaged 3 million viewers, flat with last year. Both shows have been renewed and will be back in 2015.