With swords in hand and palace intrigue in the shadows, HBO’s Game Of Thrones was back for its fourth season last night with a record-breaking 6.6 million viewers. That’s up 52% over the 4.4 million who tuned in for the Season 3 debut on March 31, 2013 – no wonder GoT crashed HBO Go last night. Sunday’s viewership result is not only the most watched GoT episode ever but is the second-best result HBO has seen since the 11.9 million who watched the series finale of The Sopranos back in 2007. The Season 4 opener also soared 23% up from the 5.4 million viewers the Season 3 finale drew on June 9. Until last night, the most-watched GoT episode ever was the May 5, 2013, airing that pulled in an audience of 5.5 million. With two more plays last night, GoT had a gross audience of 8.2 million on Sunday.
With GoT as a lead-in, Silicon Valley debuted at 10 PM with an average of 2 million viewers. Dripping with satire and techie in-jokes — not to mention cameos by Kid Rock and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt — the Mike Judge half-hour dark comedy was up 42% from the 1.4 million that the Veep series premiere drew on April 22, 2012. (With a big-name star in Julia Louis-Dreyfus, that comedy also debuted at 10 PM after GoT, though the latter wasn’t a season premiere.) That makes the new show the best debut HBO has had for a half-hour since the 2.8 million who watched the Hung premiere in 2009. Silicon Valley also did much much better than the other most recent HBO debut of Looking. That show, which was renewed for a second season in February, got 338,000 viewers for its premiere at 10:30 PM on January 10. Last night’s debut also is more than double the 872,000 viewers that now-cultural-touchstone Girls had for its April 15, 2012, premiere. With two more plays over the night, Silicon Valley had a gross audience of 2.5 million on Sunday
Speaking of Veep, the scathing look at fictional Vice President Selina Meyer was back last night for a third season with 955,000 viewers. Now at 10:30 PM, that’s down 20% from the 1.2 million who tuned in to the show’s Season 2 debut on April 14 last year. Last night’s Veep dipped 3% from the 985,000 viewers who tuned in for the series’ Season 2 finale on June 23. Over two more replays, Veep had gross audience of 1.5 million.