Last night, Game of Thrones finished out its epic third season at the subscription cable network, HBO. The finale pulled in 5.4 million total viewers, which is a hefty number for any cable or subscription cable network, but that number happens to be just shy of the network high the show earned earlier this season. This is one of those times where it isn’t half bad to nab the title of the second most-watched program ever on HBO, but it’s probably still a little bittersweet for anyone actively rooting for the network to beat its previous title.

While Game of Thrones did increasingly well throughout Season 3, hitting a series high on several occasions, eventually reaching its biggest telecast thus far in week 6 with 5.5 million total viewers. Last night’s episode may not have been quite as compelling as some of the other episodes this season, but it firmly sent many of its characters down new paths and set audiences up for an even more exciting Season 4, which will follow the second half of George R. R. Martin’s book, A Storm of Swords (although the timeline in the show is a little different and we’ve already gotten some of the plotlines from other books). Plus, the finale was still up more than a million viewers from Season 2’s initial finale airing, which brought in 4.2 million total viewers.

If 5.4 million total viewers still seems like a low number for a show with such an avid fanbase, it’s because we are only counting the premiere telecast numbers. According to THR, overarching “gross numbers,” which include live views, DVR, On Demand, and even online streaming via HBO Go have the series averaging about 13.6 million total viewers an episode. That’s not even counting international numbers or the people across the world that are illegally downloading the program each week. Suffice to say, I’d call Game of Thrones a success for HBO and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the program continued to gain new viewers in Season 4.

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