Cable viewers awarding FX 'Damages'

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FX's new series "Damages" got off to a good start Tuesday night.

The legal drama, starring Glenn Close, averaged 3.7 million total viewers in its commercial-free debut from 10-11 p.m., ranking as basic cable's No. 1 program of the night, according to Nielsen Media Research.

That's only slightly less than the March debut of FX's Monday night series "The Riches" (3.8 million) and on par with the January debut of FX's "Dirt" (3.7 million), which airs in the same Tuesday time slot as the Sony Pictures Television-produced legal drama. "Riches" and "Dirt" have been renewed for second seasons.

Compared with other FX series premieres, it also was even with "Nip/Tuck" (3.7 million) in July 2003 but off from "The Shield" (4.8 million) in March 2002 and "Rescue Me" (4.1 million) in July 2004.

"Damages," however, did skew older than the other FX premieres. In the key adults 18-49 demographic, "Damages" drew 1.2 million viewers, which was off significantly from the series premieres of "Riches" (2.5 million) and "Dirt" (2.4 million). "Damages" averaged 1.5 million in adults 25-54.

"Damages" also outperformed the recent Season 4 premiere of "Rescue Me" (2.8 million) last month in total viewers but not in 18-49 (1.8 million).

It also built on its lead-in, an airing of theatrical "Flightplan," by 131% in total viewers (1.6 million) and 71% in 18-49 (708,000).

It should be noted that FX said its shows generally improve by as much as 25% when DVR-playback data is factored in (which won't be available for a couple of weeks). For example, "Rescue Me's" Season 4 opener grew to 3.3 million total viewers (up 17%) and 2.1 million in 18-49 (up 18%) once final figures were available.
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