8:34am PT by Mikey O'Connell
'Game of Thrones' Season 2 Premiere Scores Record 3.9 Million Viewers
HBO's Game of Thrones staged a royal return Sunday night, boasting its highest ratings to date with the premiere of its sophomore season. The episode, up a whopping 74 percent from its series premiere, also was the most-watched scripted series on cable for the week.
A total of 3.9 million viewers saw the inaugural broadcast, with 6.3 million tuning in among all of the network's broadcasts for the night. That marks 53 percent gains from its freshman season average and a 27 percent rise from its previous series high.
Thrones premiered in April 2011 to 2.2 million viewers and a 0.9 rating among adults 18-49. It showed steady ratings growth during the course of the freshman season, ending with a record 3 million and a 1.4 rating in the demo.
Although a significantly more costly production, Thrones' premiere easily bests the recent season highs for HBO's already-renewed Boardwalk Empire. Its Season 2 finale in December brought that series 3 million viewers.
It's also a huge jump from recent Sunday drama Luck. David Milch's horse-racing series drama debuted to 1.4 million before dropping significantly. Although that series also was renewed, production was shut down during filming of the second run after the death of three horses.
Thrones, created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, is based on the best-selling "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels by George R. R. Martin.