The ‘Game of Thrones’ finale was HBO’s most-watched episode of all time – even before counting piracy

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  • HBO’s “Game of Thrones” aired its final episode on Sunday, May 19.
  • The series broke an earlier record set by “The Sopranos” for the most-watched telecast in HBO’s history.
  • Overall, 19.3 million viewers watched across HBO’s TV and digital platform, beating the series’ previous best.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Critics may have been disappointed in the way things wrapped up in Westeros on Sunday, but a record-setting number of viewers still tuned in to watch “Game of Thrones” come to its divisive end.

An estimated 13.6 million viewers watched the 9 p.m. airing of the final episode of “Game of Thrones” on May 19, according to Nielsen data released by HBO. It was the most-watched single telecast in HBO’s history, edging out the network’s original flagship drama, “The Sopranos.” The season-four premiere of the mobster series set the earlier record with 13.4 million viewers in 2002.

But that doesn’t take into account the rise in streaming viewing that has happened in between 2002 and now.

Overall, 19.3 million viewers watched the “Game of Thrones” finale across HBO’s platforms, including its TV channels, HBO Go service for pay-TV customers, and HBO Now subscription service. The episode bested the prior week’s 18.4-million-viewer series high.

And these are just the viewers HBO counted. The figures don’t include viewers who may have watched the episode through less-than-legal means, such as pirated streams and downloads.

The season premiere of the final season of “Game of Thrones” was pirated 54 million times globally in its first 24 hours in April, Business Insider previously reported, citing data from digital-piracy analytics company, Muso. It was most-pirated in places like India and China, according to the data.

Given the enormous live viewership of the “Game of Thrones” finale, the series may have set more than one record last night.

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