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'Game of Thrones' Season 2 premiere hits series high

April 3, 2012 | 11:11 am

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High ratings have come to Westeros.

HBO's "Game of Thrones" unfurled its second season Sunday with 3.9 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. That was a giant 77% increase over last year's series premiere and was up 30% over the Season 1 finale. HBO estimated that a total of 6.3 million viewers caught one of the three plays the show had over the night.

That kind of growth is enough to ensure that "Game of Thrones" remains among the hottest shows on TV. That's important to HBO, which is banking on a major franchise from George R.R. Martin's series of five fantasy novels about the struggle for power in the mythical kingdom of Westeros.

CHEAT SHEET: "Game of Thrones"

However, in a market cluttered with original cable series, HBO has had to fight harder for ratings than it used to, and some might view "Game of Thrones" as performing mildly given the money the network has spent making and promoting it. In 2002, "The Sopranos" premiered to more than 13 million total viewers.

One of show's producers originally pitched "Game of Thrones" as "'Sopranos' in Middle-earth." Hey, a guy can dream.

What did you think of the Season 2 rollout of "Game of Thrones"? 

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-Scott Collins (twitter.com/scottcollinsLAT)

Photo: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in "Game of Thrones," which returned to HBO on Sunday. Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO.

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