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'Sopranos' broke HBO ratings record

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Backed by enough promotional hype to choke a horse, the fourth-season premiere of The Sopranos scored record numbers for HBO Sunday.

The long-awaited (16 months) return of Prozac-popping mob boss Tony (James Gandolfini), wife Carmela (Edie Falco) and the rest of the gang averaged 13.4 million viewers - the most-watched program in the 30-year history of HBO. That includes sporting events.

By comparison, the two-hour premiere of Sopranos' Season 3, in March 2001, averaged 11.3 million viewers. Season 2's debut had 9.6 million; Season 1's 4.3 million.

Sopranos averaged 7.9 million homes Sunday, beating the previous record of 7.3 million for the Mike Tyson-Frank Bruno heavyweight boxing bout in 1989, HBO says.

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