“Game of Thrones” has whacked “The Sopranos” off its ratings perch.
As the fantasy drama nears the end of its fourth season, HBO reports that “Game of Thrones” is now the most popular series in the network’s history. Episodes of the show, which first air on Sunday nights, have an average gross audience of 18.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen. (This figure includes all viewings on all platforms.)
The previous high, set by the 2002 season of “The Sopranos,” was an average gross audience of 18.2 million viewers per episode. Season three of “Game of Thrones” had an average gross audience of 14.4 million viewers per episode.
The show’s fourth-season premiere in April drew a series-record 6.635 million viewers for its initial telecast — a series high and 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.
“Thrones” has topped that number a few times this season, peaking with 7.195 million on May 18. Its most recent episode, last Sunday, drew the show’s second-largest same-night audience to date (7.17 million).
Based on the bestselling fantasy book series by George R.R. Martin, “Game of Thrones” is an epic story of treachery and nobility set on the continent of Westeros, where summers and winters can last years, and only the lust for power is eternal. The series was recently renewed for a fifth and sixth season.