HBO renews ‘Boardwalk Empire’

HBO has given a speedy renewal to“Boardwalk Empire” after Sunday’s premiere was the pay channel’s biggest in six years.

“All the ingredients aligned for this one, from Mark Wahlberg and Steve Levinson”s initial pitch, to Martin Scorsese”s enormous contributions as director and executive producer, to the genius of Terry Winter and the expertise of Tim Van Patten, to a stellar cast led by Steve Buscemi,” HBO president Michael Lombardo said in a statement. “The response from the media and our viewers has been nothing short of amazing.”

Sunday’s premiere (you can read my review of it here) drew 4.8 million viewers at 9, and if you add in the 10:15 and 11:30 p.m. airings, the number goes up to 7.1 million.

Either way you choose to count it, that’s in the neighborhood that HBO’s current flagship “True Blood” gets, and is the most-watched HBO premiere since “Deadwood” back in 2004, when that show had “The Sopranos” as its lead-in.

As I’ve said before, with “Boardwalk Empire,” HBO threw a lot of money at the problem that was its post-“Sopranos” malaise. Sometimes, when you throw a lot of money at a problem you just waste money (see most of the Dan Snyder-era Redskins). Sometimes, though (see the 2009 Yankees), it pays off, both creatively and commercially, which it clearly has here.