HBO commits to fourth season of 'Big'

As the series’ lead character contemplates a fourth wife, HBO has committed to a fourth season of its polygamy-themed drama “Big Love.”

Skein drew 1.5 million viewers in its initial run Sunday at 9 p.m., growing its audience 29% over Jan. 18’s season-three premiere despite competition from the Super Bowl on NBC.

Playtone’s Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, David Knoller and series creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer exec produce “Big Love.”

The show is averaging nearly 5 million viewers per episode when DVR viewing, encore runs and video-on-demand deliveries are factored in — a performance on par with that of HBO’s frosh hit “True Blood.”

Season-four production is set to start later this year with episodes slated to run on the pay cabler in 2010.

“Big Love” stars Bill Paxton as a polygamous Utah businessman and Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin as his wives. Branka Katic stars as Eastern European waitress Ana, who’s being courted in season three to join the family as the fourth wife.

“Big Love’s” ratings growth gives HBO Sunday-night momentum going into the Feb. 15 launch of “Eastbound and Down,” a new laffer from Will Farrell and Adam McKay and “Foot Fist Way” producing trio Danny McBride, Chris Henchy and Jody Hill.

Starring McBride as a washed-up Major League relief pitcher indignantly returning to his home town, series is set to run Sundays at 10:30, leading out of “Flight of the Conchords,” which made its season two premiere on Jan. 18.

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