June 10, 2013 at 06:10 PM EDT

HBO’s Game of Thrones closed out its best season yet with nearly its biggest rating ever.

Sunday night’s third season closer “Mhysa” delivered 5.4 million viewers, just shy of its 5.5 million all-time high that was set several weeks back, and totaled 6.3 million for the night. That’s up 28 percent compared to last season’s finale. Thrones was against some strong summer broadcast competition that included the NBA Finals and, to a lesser degree, the Tonys.

Moreover, this season of Thrones has firmly surpassed True Blood as HBO’s second most-popular season of all time. The third season of Thrones currently averages 13.6 million viewers across all platforms, which is above True Blood‘s summit of 13 million viewer average in 2010. The Sopranos remains No. 1 with 14.4 million for its 2004 season.

Intensely serialized dramas like Thrones often steadily decline in the ratings, especially after the first or second season, since it becomes increasingly tough for new viewers to just dive-in mid-way. Yet Thrones has been a growth story for the network. Each season has averaged higher than the last. (A couple other cable dramas have pulled this off too — like Showtime’s Dexter and AMC’s Breaking Bad for its first four seasons, though both launched with lower ratings than Thrones).

Read more Thrones season 3 finale coverage:

‘Game of Thrones’ team on series future: ‘There is a ticking clock’ — EXCLUSIVE

‘Game of Thrones’ season finale recap + season best list: A Sort of Homecoming

‘Game of Thrones’: Theon’s mysterious tormentor speaks + most evil villain poll

Finally: Why HBO greenlit ‘Game of Thrones’

HBO’s epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin’s novels.
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