Lynette Rice
September 07, 2011 AT 06:29 PM EDT

Great return for Sons of Anarchy: The fourth season premiere on Tuesday attracted its largest audience ever.

Nearly 5 million total viewers and 3.22 million adults 18-49 tuned into the episode that began with the members of SAMCRO leaving prison. The 90-minute episode averaged 4.94 million, up 20 percent versus last season. It also posted a 15 percent gain in adults 18-49 versus its third-season premiere.

Together with its two encore runs last night, more than 7 million viewers watched the episode.

Read more:

‘Sons of Anarchy’ Season 4 Premiere’s Killer End Montage: How They Did It!

Ken Tucker’s ‘Sons of Anarchy’ season premiere review: A down ‘n’ dirty season gets up ‘n’ running

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