An average of 2.7 million viewers over the age of 2 watched "John Adams," which stars Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, and aired Sunday between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., according to Nielsen Media Research.
Those numbers don't make "Adams" a tremendous HBO hit. More than 10 million people watched the first hour of "Band of Brothers," a 10-hour military-themed miniseries that originally aired in 2001, while "From the Earth to the Moon" debuted before 5.9 million viewers in 1998.
Hoping for a hit
HBO has been casting about for a program that will spark thoughts of its glory days, when programs like "The Sopranos," "Six Feet Under" and "Sex and the City" made the channel more of a must-see phenomenon. HBO doesn't run commercials and depends largely on cable subscribers choosing to pay extra to bring it into the home.
To promote "John Adams," HBO teamed with the U.S. Postal Service to encourage consumers to write letters in emulation of John and Abigail Adams, famous for their voluminous correspondence. A promotion for the series appeared on more than 3.75 million sales receipts, and on more than 3 billion pieces of mail in the cancellation mark.
Now that its best-known series are off the air, HBO has struggled to find a blockbuster, although critically lauded programs such as "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Entourage" remain part of its lineup. The channel has suffered several misfires, including "John from Cincinnati," a series from creator David Milch that launched last summer.
Executive moves on
HBO said earlier this week that Carolyn Strauss, a veteran executive who was head of entertainment programming, would leave that post. She will stay with the cable outlet in a new capacity, while HBO searches for a replacement.
Chris Albrecht, the former HBO chairman who had played a central role in the development of some of the network's most successful programs, stepped down last year after being arrested in an incident in Las Vegas tied to a physical confrontation with a girlfriend.