HBO's 'Boardwalk Empire' Returns Down

33 REP Boardwalk Empire Steve Buscemi H
Abbot Genser/HBO

HBO garnered a leading 7 wins for "Boardwalk Empire" -- in categories including art direction and casting that "Mad Men" won last year -- which might foretell a new drama series champion crowned Sept. 18.

Boardwalk Empire returned to television this past Sunday, opening its second season down 8 percent from last season's average of 3.2 million.

Against Sunday night football, several broadcast premieres and baseball, HBO's Boardwalk Empire premiere delivered 2.9 million to its initial 9 p.m. telecast. To compare, Empire closed out its season to 3.3 million viewers last year. Empire launched last September to 4.8 million, HBO's largest audience for a series premiere in six years.

Including encores at 10 and 11 p.m., the Steve Buscemi-led Prohibition-era drama added 971,000 and 623,000 more viewers, respectively, to 4.5 million on Sunday.