HBO drama steady in season 3; 'Weeds' goes out on high note

It was status quo for Nucky Thompson and the gang as HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” opened its third season. Meanwhile, Nancy Botwin and the “Weeds” mob went out on a high note for Showtime with its series finale.

“Boardwalk’s 9 p.m. premiere telecast drew 2.9 million viewers, according to HBO. That’s dead even with the turnout for the sophomore season bow last September.

HBO said a total of 4.6 million viewers tuned in across three plays on Sunday, a slight gain over the 4.5 million logged on premiere night last year.

The 10 p.m. airing drew 1.1 million viewers, while the 11 p.m. play added 624,000.

“Boardwalk’s” viewer base will undoubtedly grow across the week as HBO subscribers cue it on VOD and HBO Go platforms as well as additional on-air reruns.

With those numbers, a season four renewal for the Terence Winter skein is likely to be a lock, though there’s no official word yet from HBO on a pickup.

“Weeds” closed out its eight-season run with 864,000 viewers for the hourlong seg’s premiere 10 p.m. airing, and a total of 1.28 million for subsequent airings Sunday. The premiere turnout was up 55% from its seven-season closer (556,000). The Lionsgate TV comedy has averaged about 3.2 million viewers per episodes reruns, VOD and DVR playback is included.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more