'Sopranos' Body Count: 11.9 Million
Finale draws show's biggest audience since '04
The show's much-discussed and heavily dissected finale played to 11.9 million viewers, a big increase from its average this spring and the biggest audience for a "Sopranos" episode since the season five premiere (12.1 million viewers) in March 2004. The series had been drawing between 7 million and 8 million viewers per week over its final episodes.
The 11.9 million viewers also makes "The Sopranos" Sunday's most-watched program by a pretty healthy margin. The NBA Finals on ABC averaged about 8 million viewers, and the Tony Awards on CBS drew only 6.2 million people, the smallest audience for the awards in 15 years.
In fact, it was the No. 2 show on all of television, cable or broadcast, last week. Only the season premiere of "America's Got Talent" on NBC, which drew about 13 million viewers, had a bigger audience.
HBO is in about 40 million homes, compared to 100 million-plus for the broadcast networks.
The open-ended finale -- and particularly the final scene, which cut to a black screen as Tony (James Gandolfini) warily eyed fellow patrons in a diner -- has sparked a love-it-or-hate-it reaction from viewers, with those on the love-it side praising the ambiguity and those on the hate-it side calling for the head of creator David Chase, who wrote and directed the finale.
The final nine episodes of "The Sopranos" averaged 8.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen measurements.