Sons of Anarchy's 90-minute Season 4 debut became the series' most-watched episode, attracting 4.94 million viewers, a 20 percent increase over the third-season premiere, according to Nielsen figures.
Of that viewership total, some 3.22 million Tuesday night — up 15 percent — were in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 age group.
"Last night's ratings are indicative of the passion the audience has for this wonderful show," FX President John Landgraf said. "Kurt [Sutter, the series creator] has crafted one of the most compelling series on television, with the raw, blow-your-hair-back energy of a wide-open Harley and the subtle complexity of a great book."
The previous high in viewership for Sons came for the Season 2 finale (4.32 million on Dec. 1, 2009).
On broadcast TV, where the summer season is ending, America's Got Talent outdrew its competition, averaging 11.43 million people. Against the NBC show, repeats of NCIS: Los Angeles finished second with 8.95 million and 7.04 million viewers.