11:40am PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: 'Ray Donovan' Premiere Tops 'Homeland' With Showtime Record
Ray Donovan brought Showtime its biggest premiere to date on Sunday, averaging 1.35 million viewers during its first airing. The series followed another record for Dexter, which returned for its final season to a premiere high of 2.5 million viewers.
Compared to Homeland, Ray Donovan's opener was up 25 percent from the Showtime darling's 2011 premiere (1.08 million). Ray Donovan delivered 2.22 million viewers with an encore, eclipsing Homeland by 61 percent.
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As has become something of a tradition for Showtime, the network offered wide sampling of the Ray Donovan premiere in the ramp-up to Sunday's premiere. The network estimates 816,000 subscribers sampled the series On Demand and on Showtime Anytime -- and those numbers do not include additional online sampling for non-subscribers.
Even bigger for Showtime was Dexter. Entering its final season, the network veteran was up 4 percent from last year's premiere during its first summer opener. All previous seasons of Dexter had run in the fall. An encore of the episode brought the series' nightly total up to 3.2 million viewers.
Dexter, like all Showtime series, sees significant time-shifted viewing. The series generally adds 64 percent of its viewers after Sunday's 9 p.m. original, and the last season of Dexter saw gross weekly viewership hit 5.9 million.
Dexter has been a proven launchpad for Showtime, a major factor in the series' summer move and pairing with Ray Donovan. After leading into Homeland for the Emmy winner's first two seasons, last fall even saw Dexter's viewership eclipsed by the younger drama on several occasions.