‘The Sopranos’ Ratings: Only 11.9 Million?

The season finale of . Photo: Courtesy of HBO

The Nielsen ratings for the series finale of The Sopranos were officially released today, and HBO is surely congratulating itself for scoring the biggest rating ever for a series finale on the pay network. But are we wrong to view the numbers — 11.9 million viewers — as surprisingly low? We understand that ratings are a whole different deal over at HBO, so expecting numbers anywhere close to other huge series finales was crazy. The Sopranos was never going to threaten M*A*S*H's 106 million viewers, or even Friends' 52 million. But was it crazy to think that the final episode of the Greatest Television Show Ever Made would do better than, say, the season average for Law & Order: SVU, the 30th-most-popular program airing on networks during the 2006–2007 television season?

For that matter, was it crazy to think that David Chase's finale would at least be the highest-rated episode of The Sopranos ever? Apparently so, because according to Variety, the show scored better numbers on at least three previous occasions, including the third-season premiere, which attracted 13.4 million viewers. Yeah, those were halcyon days for The Sopranos, but we're still kind of surprised the finale didn't do better. Someone tell us why we're wrong.

Nearly 12 million for 'Sopranos' [Variety]