SURVEY SAYS: Tuning in for The Sopranos?

March 9, 2006 ( - Come Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET, after a 22-month "hiatus," The Sopranos, the HBO "family" crime drama, will return for its sixth season.

Without question, the show has developed quite a following, despite the limited audience afforded by its positioning on premium cable.   It’s also garnered a fair share of Emmys.   Still – 22 months?   Can ANY TV show be worth waiting that long for?   This week we asked readers what they would be doing Sunday night.

A plurality of this week’s respondents – 37.60% – said they were planning to tune in, and the vast majority were quite excited at the prospect, based on the enthusiasm of the responses.  I can’t wait – it has been long enough!”exclaimed one.   “I plan on watching – thanks for the reminder – I didn’t realize it was THIS Sunday!” noted one, while another said, “You don’t just ‘turn off’ the family because it’s been 22 months….”  Yes, it’s been a long time, acknowledged another .   “But the show is very well written, and the characters are fascinating to me.   I have to find out what happens to everyone, especially since this will be the last season (with yet another hiatus built into the middle of the season — aauuggh!).”   “Boy, you’ve hit a soft spot in our family’s heart (perhaps you wouldn’t expect that out of a bunch of Norwegians),” noted another, who says they will have “a full-blown family party — it’s a big event, even bigger than the Super Bowl for us.”   That reader (who plans to tape Desperate Housewives) also went on to note that “it’s sure a lot of fun, but it’s vastly different from when I was a kid when Sunday nights meant Lassie and Walt Disney.”   And some were, no doubt to the delight of HBO shareholders, planning to sign up just for the “event,” including the reader who said, “On Sunday, I am planning to subscribe to HBO – a subscription that was canceled about 21 months ago (and will probably be canceled again soon after The Sopranos season ends) – just so I can tune into the new season.”   Another noted, “I have been a big fan of The Sopranos in prior years.   I was a little surprised at the first long break they took.   Then, I was angry that they could be so arrogant to make people wait.   Now, it’s just a big joke.” 

Additionally, roughly 5% said they would be recording it to watch later (and in many cases, recording it to share with other fans later – which might NOT be such good news for HBO shareholders).

On the other hand, nearly a quarter ( 24.80% ) said they would be watching something else Sunday night.   In a number of cases, that was positioned as a necessity – either due to a decision to forego cable TV altogether, or to forego the premium channels (more precisely, the costs associated with those premium channels).   Some had been Sopranos fans, but found the extended period(s) between “seasons” too aggravating.   As one said, “Five years ago, I subscribed to HBO solely to watch the show that was creating so much buzz, The Sopranos.   When the season was over and it didn’t seem to start up again the next season, I cancelled my subscription. I haven’t picked it up since.”   

There was, however, a solid majority of this subgroup who had simply found another Sunday “date.”   One reader in this group noted that they were “committed to Desperate Housewives.   Last time The Sopranos was on, Desperate Housewives wasn’t even on the airwaves, so there was nothing better in that timeslot.”  The enthusiasm here was every bit as passionate as The Sopranos loyalists, having now gotten caught up in shows like the aforementioned Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy.  “Not even The Sopranos could pull me away from Desperate Housewives,” claimed one – another said, “And miss Desperate Housewives?!   Ha – no way.” Puhleeze, Dr. McDreamy and the rest of the Grey’s Anatomy gang trump The Sopranos any day of the week,” noted another.


The number of respondents who were planning to do something other than watch TV were a nearly identical 23.20% – most of whom had either sworn off TV altogether, had other things to do on Sunday night (getting ready for Monday morning was a frequent cite, though one reader said, “I don’t stay up for anything past 9:00 except Duke basketball” ), or have better things to do on a Sunday night (or both).   No small number agreed with the reader who said, “I’ve lived this long without ever seeing an episode of Sopranos.   I just don’t see the need to clutter my life with another thing.”   “Shut off your TV, or better yet, don’t even turn it on- it can change your life,” observed another.  

Finally, roughly 10% said they were planning to watch anything BUT The Sopranos – most expressing the same sentiments as the reader who noted, “I am (c) planning on watching ANYTHING besides The Sopranos….not that I have anything against it, but I’ve never seen it before, and I am certainly not going to purchase HBO just for the sole pleasure of watching grown men shoot each other… can’t miss what you never had….”

And then – there were a number of classic verbatims:

“A 22-month hiatus is just too long.   If I left my job for 22 months, no one that I used to work with would still be there.”  

“I’d rather go to bed with a severed horse head.”

“I’ll be watching Desperate Housewives – they’re sort of The Sopranos on estrogen….”

“I don’t need to watch the show, since we live the life ofTthe Sopranos every day at work….”

“Which direction do I need to point my antenna to get HBO?”

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said, “I don’t have cable; I’m saving for retirement!”

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey! 

And, for those who are curious what I will (or won’t) be doing come Sunday night – check out “Whacking The Sopranos” at