'Sopranos' takes ratings hit
Soft start for hit HBO show
By John Dempsey Variety April 10, 2007
The last season of "The Sopranos" kicked off on HBO Sunday night with 7.66 million total viewers, a solid audience, but well below the Nielsens for the first episode of its previous season: a total of 9.47 million viewers on March 12, 2006.
The people-18-to-49 number was also down, from a 4.5 rating a year ago to Sunday night's 3.6 rating. But the 3.6 was still good for second place in the time period, behind an original episode of "Desperate Housewives" on ABC, which averaged a 6.1 rating in the 18-49 category.
But HBO made the point that the real rating for each "Sopranos" episode consists of the accumulation of its multiple runs on HBO and HBO2 in the six days following the premiere, as well as the availability of the episode on HBO On Demand, which subscribers can call up at any time.
Since HBO doesn't accept advertising, the rating of the premiere run is not as important as it is to an ad-supported network that uses the Nielsen numbers to chalk up revenues from Madison Avenue.
Shame, but that's the price HBO and David Chase have to pay for the off-putting pace and maddeningly uneven pace of last year's Season 6 Pt. 1 (and the years-in-between waiting for these seasons to air).