TV Ratings

'Game of Thrones' Season 7 premiere sets record with 10.1 million viewers

The Season 7 debut of "Game of Thrones" has set a record.

The HBO drama's season debut drew a record-setting 10.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen company figures released Tuesday.

That eclipsed previous top-rated "Game of Thrones" episodes, including the 8.11 million who watched the season five finale in 2015 and the 8 million who tuned in to that year's opener.

The numbers represent viewers who watched the episodes as they first aired. Many more join the party through streaming and DVR viewings. The episode was so popular it even crashed HBO's main site.

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As the new season opened, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) is atop the Iron Throne as queen of Westeros; Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) commands an extensive army, and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) is exacting revenge for Red Wedding family deaths.

There was one eye-catching new man: Pop star Ed Sheeran had a cameo in the premiere which upset some fans.

The glittering ratings will have to make up for a lack of 2017 Emmy gold. The series returned outside the awards' eligibility window, so "Game of Thrones" was missing from the field of nominees announced last week after it dominated last year's Emmys.

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Viewer fascination clearly is building as the fantasy saga based on George R.R. Martin's books draws toward its end. After this penultimate season of seven episodes, fewer than the usual 10, HBO has said there will be one more with an expected eight episodes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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