April 24, 2012 10:47am PT by Michael O'Connell
'Veep' Premieres Strong at HBO, if Shy of Yesteryear's Comedies
It pays to be second in command.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus' new vice presidential comedy Veep was off to a strong start Sunday on HBO, bringing in 1.4 million viewers during its inaugural 10 p.m. ET broadcast and tacking on another 300,000 with a midnight encore.
Those numbers are up 34 percent from previous time-slot holder Eastbound and Down's season average and significantly better than fellow freshman comedy Girls. Writer-actress Lena Dunham's critically praised Girls followed its modest 872,000-viewer debut with a steady second outing of 858,000. Adding another 257,000 at 12:30 a.m., it drew 1.1 million for the night.
Comedy has not been the biggest source of viewers for HBO of late. Renewed Golden Globe winner Enlightened bowed to just 210,000 total viewers in October, lower than the now-canceled Bored to Death, Hung and How to Make It in America.
And Bored to Death and Hung, both of which recently exited the network after three seasons, dipped to well below 1 million viewers in their final episodes -- where the latter once enjoyed an audience as strong as 2.9 million in a single broadcast. The network's juggernaut flagship comedy, Entourage, ended its eight-season run in September with 2.6 million in its finale's first airing and 3.1 million for the night.
Meanwhile, dramas continue to thrive on the premium cable. Following its record-breaking 3.9 million-reaching premiere, Game of Thrones aired its fourth episode of Season 2 to 3.7 million. Averaging encore broadcasts, HBO on Demand and DVR, the network cites an average 10.4 million audience per episode.
Preliminary data for Girls, which also premiered early online for nonsubscribers, has the pilot episode grossing 3.2 million viewers to date.