By James Hibberd
Updated April 01, 2013 at 05:35 PM EDT

HBO’s Game of Thrones returned Sunday night to its most-watched episode ever.

The third season premiere delivered 4.4 million viewers for its premiere at 9 p.m. and racked up 6.7 million viewers for the evening after its two repeats were tallied. That’s up 13 percent from its first airing last year and represents a record for the show in both measurements.

Despite heavy publicity and a rabid fan base, odds were stacked against Thrones setting a record. TV viewership historically dips on Easter Sunday, and Thrones ran head-to-head for the first time with the heavily anticipated The Walking Dead finale, which has a demographically similar male-skewing audience (and also set a series record last night). Give that Thrones premiered against the wind, I suspect Thrones will beat these numbers a few times this season (and could it surpass True Blood as HBO’s most-watched show?).

How close was my Thrones ratings prediction yesterday? Nearly dead-on: I bet on 4.3 million at 9 p.m. and nailed the 6.7 million for the night. Though HBO has not announced a fourth season on Thrones, you will likely see a renewal within the next couple weeks. Renewed! Check out my recap of the Thrones season premiere here.


Episode Recaps

Game of Thrones

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series 'A Song of Ice and Fire.'

  • TV Show
  • 8
  • 73
  • TV-MA
  • David Benioff
  • D.B. Weiss
  • HBO
stream service