HBO Smells What The Rock Is Cooking, Renews 'Ballers'

VOD Helps Dwayne Johnson Comedy Snare a Second Season

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Dwayne Johnson on 'Ballers,' now heading for a second season.
Dwayne Johnson on 'Ballers,' now heading for a second season. Credit: HBO

Just six weeks after the popcorn flick "San Andreas" boasted one of the summer's biggest opening weekends, action hero Dwayne Johnson can now add "TV star" to his résumé, as HBO has renewed his new comedy "Ballers."

The mountainous actor stars as Vicodin-gobbling former NFL phenom Spencer Strasmore, who leaves the gridiron behind to become a financial consultant for a clutch of knucklehead jocks. (Executive produced by Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson, "Ballers" is basically "Entourage" in shoulder pads.)

"Ballers" premiered to 2.16 million viewers, of whom 65% were members of the 18-to-49 demo. When deliveries via HBO Now, HBO Go and other on-demand platforms are factored in, the June 21 pilot was seen by 8.9 million total viewers. The episode also has scared up another 5.6 million views on Mr. Johnson's Facebook page.

"The charismatic and hugely talented Dwayne Johnson, along with the rest of the 'Ballers' cast, has truly struck a chord with the HBO audience," said the network's president of programming, Michael Lombardo, by way of announcing the second-season pickup.

While HBO did not reveal its plans for "Ballers" lead-out "The Brink," the Jack Black comedy's linear-TV ratings have been less than stellar. The first episode averaged 1.6 million viewers and just 888,860 adults 18-to-49, and the most recent installment last Sunday fell to 1.17 million viewers and around 634,900 members of the demo.

Mr. Johnson has been having what can only be characterized as a total kick-ass summer. After opening to an impressive $54.6 million in domestic box office receipts, "San Andreas" now stands as the fifth-biggest movie of the season, grossing an estimated $148.5 million.

Per estimates, Warner Bros. spent $39.4 million on national TV to promote "Ballers," targeting cable networks such as Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, Syfy and FX.

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