Thomas Sadoski, Sam Waterston, Jeff Daniels

Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom debuted to 2.1 million viewers Sunday to post HBO's third-best series premiere since 2008.

The number is just shy of Game of Thrones' debut (2.2 million) and well off the 4.8 million who tuned in to Boardwalk Empire's bow. Counting the encore presentation, The Newsroom pulled in 2.7 million viewers.

HBO puts The Newsroom pilot online for free

The Jeff Daniels drama, about the inner workings of a cable news network, also opened better than HBO's most recent series, the short-lived Luck (1.14 million), and True Blood, which drew 1.4 million viewers in September 2008.

Now the bad news: The Newsroom shed more than half of True Blood's lead-in audience of 4.7 million viewers.

On Monday, HBO put the Newsroom pilot online for free.