HBO’s Game Of Thrones returned for its third season with a record-breaking 4.4 million viewers last night. The one-hour 9 PM premiere was up 13% from the 3.9 million who watched the Season 2 premiere on April 1, 2012 and up 4% over its previous viewership high of 4.2 million for the Season 2 finale last year. Over its three plays Sunday, Thrones was seen by 6.7 million viewers, up 7% from the 6.3 million who watched all the plays of the Season 2 debut. That 9 PM Season 2 debut on June 3 was up 74% from the flagship HBO series’ Season 1 debut on April 17, 2011. The viewership pulled by the epic fantasy drama’s Season 2 9 PM finale on June 3 last year was sharply up from the 3 million who watched the first play of Game Of Thrones‘ Season 1 finale. Across TV viewership, on demand, HBO GO and DVR plays, Season 2 of Game Of Thrones had an average gross audience of 11.6 million viewers.Game Of Thrones is based on the novels of George R. R. Martin, who serves as an executive producer on the series. The series has not yet been formally renewed for a fourth season by HBO.

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