The final ride has come to an end for the Kurt Sutter created show but not without a lot of eyes on Jax Teller and the crew of SAMCRO – more eyes than ever before actually. Despite a leak last week of how it all ends, last night’s series finale of Sons of Anarchy was watched by 6.4 million total viewers with 4.2 million among adults 18-49, according to Nielsen.
The more than 90-minute episode tops the previous SOA all-time high of 6.2 million total viewers and 4.1 million among the key demo of the Season 7 premiere on September 9.In the Live + 3 numbers that FX prefers, the SOA S7 opener went up almost 50% to 9.25 million viewers and 6.1 million among the 18-49s. FX will likely be releasing the L+3 for the series finale early next week. In the meantime, in Live + Same Day numbers, last night’s series finale also beat the 5.2 million viewers and 3.54 million in the demo who watched the 151-minute Season 6 finale of December 10, 2013 – that show was a finale high for SOA.
In fact, the 10 PM Sons of Anarchy was not just the top show on cable last night but is almost tied in the key demo with the star studded and lingerie flashing Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show on CBS, which was in the same time slot. The top rated show on the Big 4 last night, the now annual special, which faced off against the previous SOA Season finale last year, had 4.34 million viewers among adults 18-49
With many of SOA’s bloody threads finally or fatally wrapped up, the S7 finale soundly beat another FX Season 7 finale and series ender that Sutter actually worked. In another TV era, where cable had yet to breakthrough in many ways, the end of The Shield on November 25, 2008 had 1.84 million total viewers with a pretty stunning 1.19 million of that number in the 18-49 demo. Total viewerwise, that last episode of The Shield was a dip of 9% from how the Shawn Ryan created show did in its S7 debut of September 2, 2008 – that premiere episode was written by Sutter. Those days on The Shield played a role in the end of SOA with the show’s lead and current American Horror Story actor Michael Chiklis showing up behind the wheel of truck in both the penultimate and last episodes.
Looking across the cable landscape to a more recent series finale as another comparison, the end of Breaking Bad in September 2013 pulled in 10.3 million total viewers and 6.7 million in the demo. With the drama of a split 2-part Season 5, the acclaimed AMC show surged in it last episodes out of its usual 3 -4 million viewership pattern to end up 300% over its S4 finale among adults 18-49. In contrast, SOA has had a much more steady rise season over season, even going into the spotlight of its own final ride.
Not that Kurt Sutter or SOA are gone forever. Among projects, the showrunner has the period drama project The Bastard Executioner coming to FX. Sutter has said repeatedly that a SOA prequel of a sort is in the gameplan too – though it is undecided it if will be a series or mini-series, according to the showrunner. If last night’s numbers are any indication, the fans want more of more.