Solid ‘Carnivale’ start after HBO’s hot ‘Sex’

New skein sees best ever debut for cabler's original series

NEW YORK — HBO had boffo “Sex” on Sunday night — but the dwarves on “Carnivale” and lobbyists on “K Street” had to settle for somewhat smaller results.

For “Sex and the City,” evening marked the introduction of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s character, Alexander Petrovsky — and 7.7 million total viewers tuned in to watch. Season-high numbers topped even those of premiere, which brought in 7.4 million viewers.

“Sex” netted a 4.0/10 in adults 18-49, easily winning its timeslot.

Segment was the last before the series’ hiatus. Final eight episodes of the skein will air in January.

Afterglow of “Sex” smiled upon series premiere of “Carnivale.” Viewership of 5.3 million was best ever debut for a HBO original series. (By comparison, “Six Feet Under” bowed before 5 million viewers back in 2001.)

“Carnivale” (2.6/7 in 18-49) retained 65% of the demo lead-in from “Sex,” placing third behind NBC and CBS from 9:37 to 10:37.

Night wound down with the launch of “K Street.” Beltway series brought in 3 million viewers, roughly on par with delivery of “Project Greenlight,” which previously aired in slot. Second season of “Greenlight” notched 3.5 million viewers at debut, and 2.6 million for finale.

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