As if anyone needed more proof that ‘Game of Thrones’ is a cultural juggernaut, Sunday night’s Season Four premiere earned HBO its highest ratings since ‘The Sopranos’ aired its last episode in 2007, according to EW.
The show’s 6.6 million viewers was its biggest audience yet, with two replays boosting that number to 8.2 million people. (The show’s third season, which debuted March 31st of last year, garnered 4.4 million viewers by comparison.) The show also broke its own record for most-viewed episode previously held by week six of the third season (5.5 million viewers).
Like the season finale of True Detective last month, HBO Go, the network’s streaming service, crashed during Sunday’s premiere. As Hollywood Reporter notes, the fantasy series also holds the record for most pirated series, with last season’s episodes getting nearly 6 million downloads on BitTorrent alone.
The show’s rating should only grow with each episode. On Monday, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss said that more death was “inevitable.” “If a character death feels random…the audience often feels cheated,” said the duo. “But the brilliance of [author] George [R.R. Martin’s] novels is that the deaths all seem inevitable after the fact. When you go back to reread the Red Wedding chapter, you can’t believe you missed all the clues. More importantly, the fear of getting our hearts broken is part of the deal, whether in real life or fiction.”
While you wait for next week’s episode, catch up on all the key players and places with our concise guide to TV’s most sprawling saga.