'Dexter' kills on Showtime

Finale draws record 1.1 million

Showtime's "Dexter" slayed a lot of viewers in its Season 1 finale.

The series, starring Michael C. Hall as a charming blood-splatter expert for the Miami Police Department who moonlights as a serial killer, drew 1.1 million total viewers to its Season 1 finale from 10-11 p.m. Sunday. That figure represents a 79% increase from the show's debut episode at 10 p.m. Oct. 1, which averaged 603,000 viewers.

A second airing of the hourlong episode at midnight Sunday drew 150,000 additional viewers.

The episode now stands as Showtime's single-most-watched original series since 2004, when Nielsen Media Research began reporting Showtime ratings separate from Showtime Plex. It also ranks as the most-viewed program — original or theatrical — of the year for the network.

"Dexter" also got good news last week with the announcement that Hall had received a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a drama series.

In other cable ratings news, TBS got some holiday cheer with a Sunday telecast of theatrical "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." The 8-10 p.m. airing averaged 4.2 million viewers.

Meanwhile, ABC Family continues to have success with its ninth annual "25 Days of Christmas" programming. The week ending Dec. 17 ranks as the network's second-most-watched week of the year in primetime (behind only the previous week) in total viewers (2.1 million average) and adults 18-49 (866,000).

Those numbers were boosted by programs including the premiere of the original movie "Christmas Do-Over" from 8-10 p.m. Saturday (2.7 million total viewers) and an airing of the theatrical "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" from 5:30-8 p.m. Sunday (3.5 million viewers). Overall, the network's "25 Days" is up double-digits in all key demos, including total viewers (2.8 million vs. 2.3 million, up 21%) compared with the same period last year.

Meanwhile, Hallmark Channel continues to see success with its movie debuts as the network's latest original holiday telefilm, "Love's Abiding Joy," drew 2.5 million viewers in its 9-11 p.m. premiere Saturday. That figure comes on the heels of strong numbers for the premieres of theatrical "March of the Penguins" (4.5 million) and original movies "The Christmas Card" (4.3 million) and "What I Did for Love" (3.1 million).

At CMT, 1.4 million viewers tuned in to see Toby Keith make his acting debut in the movie "Broken Bridges" during its network premiere at 8-10 p.m. Friday. CMT said the movie ranks among the network's most-watched original telecast ever.