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HBO to re-examine Mondays

Cabler to debut 'Enlightened' and 'Bored to Death' on Oct. 10

With too much original programming and too few timeslots, HBO is ready to give Mondays another try.

The pay cabler has long called Sunday its home for originals series, though it did experiment with “Six Feet Under” on Mondays — to mostly disappointing results.

New Laura Dern skein “Enlightened,” however, will debut Monday, Oct. 10, at 9:30 p.m., preceded by the third-season premiere of “Bored to Death.” “Enlightened” is a half-hour dramedy from creator Mike White.

“It wasn’t a strategic choice as much as trying to figure out how to air five shows in the fall,” programming topper Michael Lombardo said of the move Thursday at TCA. “We thought it made the most sense. We’ll see.”

While the opening-night ratings are viewed with interest in the TV community, Lombardo and HBO co-president Richard Plepler said it’s really the weeklong numbers over multiple episodes that matter most.

“People follow (ratings) so closely and make judgments about it, and we care about it to that extent, but we want to see how a show cumes up,” explained Lombardo. “Shows find their audience.”

Added Plepler: “People do not feel pressed to watch ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ ‘True Blood’ or ‘Game ofThrones’ on Sunday. You don’t feel as much pressure to perform on one night.”

Viewers watch the pay cabler’s output on DVR, video on demand and HBO Go, the net’s wildly successful online platform where HBO subscribers have access to the entire library of the net’s programming. Approximately 80% of HBO’s subscribers have the ability to download the service.

Although there is no additional charge for the platform, HBO sees a huge upside on the endeavor. With HBO Go — where viewers have the ability to watch more more series, movies and docs at their leisure — the cabler is expecting much less churn from subscribers and that can be a huge help to the coffers down the line.

Plepler raised concern that Time Warner Cable and Cablevision have still not allowed their customers access to HBO Go, and was hoping that would change in the near future.

Other fall premieres include the second season of “Boardwalk Empire” (Sept. 25) and the season launches of “Hung” and “How to Make It in America” (Oct. 2).

Also announced by HBO at the summer TCA session was that the new David Milch horse racing series “Luck” will premiere in January.

Net also gave a 10th-season renewal to talkshow “Real Time With Bill Maher.” The comedian has been a longtime favorite of the HBO brass, appearing in nine solo specials.

Lombardo and Plepler discussed the recent departure of HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, who left the net recently after being there for 33 years. Much of the speculation regarding his exit had to do with HBO not acquiring the most recent Manny Pacquiao fight, but Plepler said that wasn’t the case.

“Closing a boxing deal had nothing to do with it,” he said.

When asked if they had areas of concern in a year where “Game of Thrones” has become a worldwide phenomenon, Lombardo said it was that while the dramas were given plenty of Emmys attention, none of the HBO comedies was recognized.

“In the half-hour area we have some great shows, and would love for them to pop out a bit more,” he said.

One of HBO’s signature comedies, “Entourage,” is in the middle of its final season. Many of HBO’s other laffers — “Hung,” “How to Make It in America” and “Bored to Death” — are relatively young.

While there has been no launch date set, HBO is readying the preem of the Lena Dunham comedy “Girls.” Dunham was an indie film sensation with her pic “Tiny Furniture.”

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