Game of Thrones

First telecast of its third season draws 4.4 million — despite facing 'The Walking Dead'

Despite facing intense competition from the finales of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and History’s “The Bible” — which combined likely drew about 25 million viewers — HBO’s “Game of Thrones” drew a record 4.4 million viewers Sunday night.

The third-season premiere of the series was up 13% over its year-ago premiere (3.9 million), which didn’t face “Walking Dead,” and 4% better than its previous high of 4.2 million set with last year’s finale.

That means that “Thrones” has impressively grown its audience with each of its finales and premieres. The series opened to 2.2 million in April 2011, and wrapped its first season with a little over 3 million. It then returned last year with 3.8 million, and then concluded with the 4.2 million.

If you add up the audience for all three telecasts of “Thrones” on Sunday, the drama drew 6.7 million — also a record high previously set by its second-season finale (6.3 million).

Demo data was not available, but “Thrones” averaged a national 2.2 rating in adults 18-49 with its second-season finale, so it figures to be that or higher when numbers come in from Nielsen tomorrow.

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