'Homeland' Returns to 1.73 Million Viewers, 'Dexter' Sets Record in Season 7

UPDATED: No doubt fueled by Emmy buzz, the Showtime series' sophomore opener jumps 60 percent from last year's debut -- while the network veteran pays off on a cliffhanger with its highest-rated premiere ever.

Showtime delivered its largest Sunday audience in network history last night thanks to premieres of Dexter and Homeland.

The seventh-season opener of Dexter drew the best premiere ratings in series history, 2.4 million during its inaugural 9 p.m. broadcast and a total of 3.04 million combined with a 11 p.m. encore.

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Homeland saw a 60 percent jump over last year's series premiere for 1.73 million viewers in its first airing, even topping last year's record-setting finale. With an encore, Homeland pulled 2.07 million for the night.

The series, which just swept the Emmys with wins for dramatic series and leads Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, is now poised to be the premium cable net's second-highest-rated series behind Dexter. Its freshman season pulled in an average 4.4 million weekly viewers across platforms -- DVR, On Demand, encores, streaming -- and had the strongest finale for a freshman season (5 million across platforms) in network history.

In the week following its Emmy wins, On Demand plays for Homeland are poised to hit 1 million views.

Dexter, long Showtime's most-watched series, opened to a year-to-date network record and was up 10 percent over last year's premiere. The sixth run of Dexter averaged just shy of 5.5 million viewers every week, across platforms. It has already been renewed through at least an eighth season set for 2013.