HBO Series Rub Out Ratings Records


Home Box Office's roll picked up speed Sunday night as the season premieres
of The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Mind of the Married
all scored their highest series ratings ever.

The fourth-season debut of The Sopranos Sept. 15 pulled a 23.3
rating/31 share in HBO homes, according to Nielsen Media Research data. That
performance translated into 7.9 million households and 13.4 million viewers,
making the mob-dramedy episode the most-watched original program in the premium
network's history.

HBO officials said The Sopranos' opener also beat all broadcast
competition from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., edging NBC's Law & Order: Criminal
, which was watched in some 7.8 million homes and by 10.6 million

Curb Your Enthusiasm, the comedy starring Seinfeld co-creator
Larry David, scored an 11 rating/16 share in HBO homes, easily surpassing the
6.3 rating/9 share the show pulled for an Oct. 15, 2000, installment, during its
rookie season.

An HBO spokesman said Curb's third-season debut was in line with the
numbers turned in by Six Feet Under, the network's funereal skein.

Mind of the Married Man also did quite well, earning a 7.9 rating/12
share to top its previous high of a 6.0/8 registered Sept. 23, 2001.

In the 'Big Apple,' it looked like New Yorkers forgot about watching much
else Sunday night. The Sopranos' 'All Debts Public and Private' episode
muscled its way to a 43.2 rating in HBO homes in the New York DMA.

That's better than the 2002 Super Bowl did within the HBO universe, according
to the network. The New England Patriots' triumph over the St. Louis Rams
tackled a 37.6 within HBO homes in the New York DMA.

The big season premieres came on the heels of strong Nielsens for HBO
original series fare Sept. 8. On that night, the concluding episodes of Sex
and the City
's fifth season, Arli$$' seventh season and The
's rookie campaign all outperformed their season