Pilot has been seen by 3.3 million viewers

HBO is betting big on “Luck” and has given the series a second season.

The horse racing drama from creator David Milch and director Michael Mann premiered to 1.1 million viewers in its first telecast Sunday and that number grew to 2.2 million when you count its two same-night repeats. A sneak preview of “Luck” in December following the season finale of “Boardwalk Empire” drew 1.1 million as well, so to date the pilot has garnered 3.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

Those figures are far below the last two HBO dramas debuts, but ratings expectations for “Luck” have always been modest. “Boardwalk Empire” drew 4.8 million viewers for its initial episode when it premiered in September 2010 and “Game of Thrones” attracted 2.2 million when it launched in April last year.

In order to generate more awareness, the pay cabler made next the second episode available on popular digital platform HBO Go on Sunday as the pilot was airing.

Show stars Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and John Ortiz, as well as a handful of others who play characters whose daily life takes place at the racetrack.

Production for the second season will begin in a few weeks. HBO has ordered 10 episodes that will air beginning next January.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the critical response to this beautiful piece of work, and we are very excited about where David and Michael plan to take these incredible characters,” said HBO programming president Michael Lombardo.

Milch, Mann and Carolyn Strauss are exec producers.

In the 9 p.m. timeslot Sunday, Showtime defeated “Luck” with a new episode of “Shameless.” Skein drew 1.3 million viewers and that was followed by 1 million for Don Cheadle starrer “House of Lies.”

Both HBO and Showtime will be faced with severe Sunday competition in the next few weeks from the broadcast side. This weekend it’s the Super Bowl on NBC, followed a week later by the Grammys on CBS and then on Feb. 26 is the Oscars telecast on ABC.

Last year’s Super Bowl drew 111 million, making it the most-watched show in TV history. With a matchup of the New England Patriots vs. the New York Giants, some are guessing the game might top that mark.

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