Recent times have been hard at HBO the past few years. The network hasn't been able to replace its two tentpole series, The Sopranos and Sex And The City, and hasn't even introduced a solid hit since 2005's Rome -- which was expensive the network had to shut it down after two seasons.
But now things seem to be turning around. The backwoods vampire drama True Blood is finally pulling in the viewers to go with its loud buzz. Last Sunday's episode pulled in 5.3 million sets of eyeballs, HBO's largest audience non-Sopranos audience since an episode of Deadwood in April, 2004. (Which, by the way, profited immensely from a Sopranos lead-in.) Meanwhile, HBO's new manwhore comedy Hung is bringing in over 3 million viewers an episode, about the same as the solid Entourage.
HBO's not the only cable network celebrating this summer. TV viewership has hit record highs the past three months, with viewers tuning in an average 32.2 hours a week -- up nearly two and a half hours a week from last summer. The main beneficiaries have been the cable nets, which have launched hits like Royal Pains (7.2 million viewers per episode on USA), Warehouse 13 (4 million on Syfy) and Hawthorne (3.9 million on TNT).