After being away almost two years, Curb Your Enthusiasm returns for its 7th season on Sunday night at 9pm. Following Curb, HBO will premiere its new comedy, Bored to Death at 9:30pm.
And then next Sunday (September 27) Dexter returns to Showtime at 9pm to begin its fourth season, followed by the third season premiere of Californication at 10pm.
What's with the Seinfeld picture? You'll see. At least if you watch Curb Your Enthusiasm.
It's hard to sweat the ratings of premium cable shows. Since there is no advertising, the networks really do look at how much the shows get watched overall. And there will even be those who, will turn their HBO and/or Showtime subscriptions back on just to get Curb or Dexter.
But with these shows, happy subscribers don't necessarily (or even usually) correlate to big ratings in the first airings of new episodes.
Of all these shows, I'd guess the numbers for Bored to Death will be the most scrutinized, at least initially. HBO has taken to the practice of reporting combined numbers for the viewing of rebroadcasts through the week (as well as DVR and On Demand viewing), and Hung just recently finished its first season on track to average about 9 million viewers a week combined. An HBO record for a first year series, at least based on the new math.
But Hung had the advantage of having HBO's biggest ratings hit, True Blood, as its lead-in, plus it aired against far less competition in the summer, so it's doubtful that Bored to Death will be held to such a lofty standard. Not sure if HBO and the show's creators were confident, or simply arrogantly giving the finger to the headline gods. If the show doesn't perform at least modestly, they (and you) will suffer the wrath of "Viewers bored...to death" style headlines.