Like a fine bottle of Scotch, all good things come to an end and that’s what Boardwalk Empire did last night after five seasons – with a bit of a lift. An estimated 2.3 million people watched the 9 PM final sign-off of HBO’s prohibition period drama. That’s up 7% from the 2.18 million who tuned in for the Season 4 ender on November 24 last year. As it has all season, Boardwalk Empire faced strong competition last night from Sunday Night Football on NBC which saw the New Orleans Saints soundly beat the Green Bay Packers 44-23.
Over all its plays last night, Boardwalk Empire‘s final ender had 3 million viewers, which is its best Season 5 result. When you throw in DVR viewing, HBO Go and more platforms, the series has been averaging a gross audience of 6.6 million viewers per show this season.
The Boardwalk Empire finale — SPOILER ALERT — came as a big surprise if you were expecting the series creators to take their cue from the real-life inspiration for Nucky Thompson, Atlantic City political boss-racketeer Enoch “Nucky” Johnson. Johnson didn’t die in 1931, rather lived until he was 85, dying in the Atlantic County Convalescent Home in Northfield, New Jersey. In the wake of the roaring 20s, the real Nucky served a four-year prison term during the early 1940s for tax evasion, then worked in sales for Richfield Oil Company and Renault Winery – not quite the drama we saw last night.
On September 7 this year, 2.4 million viewers watched the premiere of the last 8-episodes of the booze drenched series’ fifth and final season. That was a match with the 2.4 million who watched the Season 4 premiere at 9 PM on September 8, 2013. Like last night’s season opener, the start of Season 4 also faced stiff competition from the Sunday Night Football season premiere on NBC.
The first of the Terence Winter-created series’ last eight episodes was up 9% from the audience of 2.177 million who tuned in for the Season 4 finale on November 24 last year. Jumping ahead several years and storylines from the end of Season 4, the Season 5 premiere finds Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson in 1931, trying to establish himself on the right side of the law ahead of the about-to-change booze reality of America. (Introduced on January 17, 1920, Prohibition was repealed on December 5, 1933 after being seen as a social failure and a Depression Era effort to grab millions in tax revenue). Over a total of three plays, this season’s opener of Boardwalk Empire had a total viewership of 2.9 million on its premiere night.