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HBO’s Sex Finishes Strong

Sex and the City
finished the first half of its final season with a bang
-- with the Nielsens, that is.

The Home Box Office comedy series posted a 15.8 rating/22 share within the
premium channel’s universe for its Sept. 14 installment -- the 12th
episode of its sixth and final season and the last original show airing until
the series returns for eight more episodes for its concluding arc, beginning
sometime in January.

HBO said the Sept. 14 show topped the 15.4 rating garnered by the Sex
installment that premiered Aug. 25, 2002.

From a viewer perspective, last Sunday night’s episode drew 7.7 million
watchers to become the series’ second-highest in that regard, trailing only the
7.9 million who tuned in to the premiere episode of Sex’s fifth

According to HBO, Sunday night’s installment led all of television, including
the "Big Four" broadcasters, among adults 18-49 from 9 p.m.-9:30 p.m. (EST).

Through the first 12 episodes of Sex’s sixth season, HBO said, the
show averaged a 14.0 rating/22 share and 6.7 million viewers. Those numbers are
down from the series’ fifth season, which averaged a 14.4 rating/22 share. That
season, though, comprised just eight episodes, as it was cut short by the
real-life pregnancy of Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays Sex protagonist
Carrie Bradshaw.

Bolstered by the strong Sex lead-in, quirky new show Carnivale
also rolled up some impressive numbers.

The debut of the series -- chronicling a 1930s Dust Bowl-era traveling
carnival troupe and forces of good and evil -- was the most-watched original
series premiere in HBO history, capturing some 5.3 million viewers in recording
a 10.6 rating/15 share from 9:35 p.m.-10:30 p.m. that night. That performance
bested the 5 million viewers who watched the debut of family funereal series
Six Feet Under.

Carnivale‘s premiere also drove past the 3.7 million average viewership
for the second season of The Wire, the previous time-slot occupant.

But there was another 2 million-viewer drop for the bow of political series
K Street, which followed Carnivale.

K Street generated a 6.7 rating/11 share in its initial outing,
attracting some 3 million viewers.

In Washington, D.C., though, viewers took greater notice. HBO indicated that
K Street grabbed a 12.8 rating, making in the top program overall in the
10:30 p.m.-11 p.m. time slot.

"We’re pleased with the performances of both of our new shows," an HBO
spokesman said.

Executive-produced and directed by George Clooney and Steven Soderburgh, K
fuses reality and fiction as it tried to get inside the Beltway and
the world of political consultants and spin doctors, with topical installments
filmed within a week of their premieres.

Both shows will move into their regular time slots Sept. 21: Carnivale
at 9 p.m., followed by the half-hour K Street at 10