HBO used Thursday afternoon's Television Critics Association press tour panel to announce that all three of its current Sunday night programs will be back next year.
While HBO is always hesitant to give ratings information in terms of premiere viewership, the premium network's Michael Lombardo said that "True Blood" is averaging 11 million cumulative viewers, "Hung" has averaged 10 million cumulative viewers and "Entourage" 8 million. Those figures include all televised airings, all first-week DVR viewership and all OnDemand viewership.
Series creator Alan Ball hinted at the pending "True Blood" renewal over the weekend at San Diego's Comic-Con, only teasing that an announcement was coming soon. HBO's plan is to have "True Blood" returning next June, tentative, with executives describing it as a summer show that they wouldn't rush into production for an earlier premiere.
"Hung" may be back sooner than that, with HBO not committing to a specific production start or premiere.
There were a variety of tidbits on other HBO programs discussed at the Thursday session:
*** "Treme," a New Orleans-set drama from "The Wire" creator David Simon, is expected to premiere next April, used as a possible platform to launch the epic miniseries "The Pacific" as well.
*** "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" hasn't been renewed, but it shouldn't be considered out-of-the-running. The network and producers are still trying to figure out a way to bring the show back without original creative forces Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack.
*** "Big Love" will return for Season Four in January.
*** Of "Flight of the Conchords," HBO Co-President Richard Pepler said, "When they're ready, we're ready."
*** Of "In Treatment," HBO execs noted that the original Israeli format was only two seasons long, so a third season would have to be an original creation, but they said they were trying to put it together.
*** HBO has ordered an animated series from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, based on their podcasts with Karl Pilkington. HBO hopes to pair the series with the return of "The Life and Times of Tim."
*** Finally, discussing Martin Scorsese's "Boardwalk Empire," the execs said that they were still awaiting a final cut of the pilot, but that everything they'd seen leading up to the pilot had lived up to expectations. All indications were that if the pilot is what they think it is, it will be sent to series.