"Sopranos" Makes TV History
By Guylaine Cadorette, Hollywood.com Staff
HOLLYWOOD, September 18, 2002 -- The 16-month hiatus seems to have done wonders for the HBO mob drama The Sopranos.
The show's Sunday night season debut pulled in its highest-ever TV ratings, attracting 13.4 million viewers--that is almost 3 million more than NBC had in the 9 p.m. hour, according to Nielsen Media Research.
The Sopranos not only marked a record audience when it premiered its fourth season Sunday, it was also the most-watched original program ever for HBO.
The show beat last year's record-setting season opener, which drew an average of 11.4 million viewers. The third season of The Sopranos, however, dropped after its premiere to average about 9 million viewers, so it will be interesting to see if the show can keep its ratings up for the next 12 weeks.
The third Sopranos season also had the advantage of playing original episodes in the spring and summer, while most of the networks were in rerun mode. The series will now have to face off against original competition, including the 54th Annual Emmy Awards on Sept. 22 and possibly the seventh game of the World Series.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Sopranos received a 23.3 ratings/31 share, and in New York, earned a 43.2--out-rating this year's Super Bowl in the HBO universe.