11M Wave So Long to 'The Sopranos’

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The fifth-season finale of Home Box Office’s The Sopranos attracted just under 11 million viewers — outperforming its season average, but falling short of the opening episode.

Titled “All Due Respect,” the June 6 installment knocked off a 21.7 rating in HBO’s universe, according to Nielsen Media Research data, to rank behind the March 7 fifth-season premiere’s 23.8 mark, the best ever for the mob dramedy.

For the season, The Sopranos scored a 19.7 rating/27 share and pulled 9.8 million viewers on average.

That performance fell short of the 19.9 rating/27 share and 11 million viewers the series notched during its fourth season, which concluded in December 2002.

Fifth-season viewing totals, though, reflect only HBO’s primary feed. This year, Nielsen began separating figures for pay channels from their multiplex offspring, as previous years’ totals represented rolled-up numbers.

It will be quite some time, though, before HBO and Tony and crew get to take body counts again: Production isn’t slated to begin on the 10-installment final season until next spring.

Last night, HBO kicked off the fourth campaign of Six Feet Under and the rookie-season finale of Deadwood. Through its first 11 premiere episodes, the western has averaged some 4.6 million viewers, a 9.6 rating/14 share in HBO homes. That performance trails only Six Feet’s first-season bow.

Come July, HBO will go comedic, launching Entourage at 10 p.m. on July 18. The half-hour show is described as trailing a prominent Hollywood actor, who shares his home with some of his high-school buddies. It will be followed by the faux-interview shenanigans of Da Ali G Show, which returns for a second season.

The premium network is looking for laughs from a different perspective down the road, having recently hired Tracy Katsky as senior vice president and to lead HBO Independent Productions, which produces multicamera series, notably Everybody Loves Raymond.

Katsky, who was senior vice president of comedy development at Fox, will produce these shows for HBO.