Friday night opener was best in net's history

The Starz premiere of “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” Friday night was the best series debut in the net’s history, although it didn’t near the levels of top skeins at other pay cablers.

Swords-and-sandals opener drew 553,000 on Starz and another 460,000 on sister net Encore. Numbers will rise once tallies from multiple showings are included.

Starz has already renewed the series for a second season. In addition to showing confidence in “Spartacus,” the network wants the TV community to know that that it’s committed to original programming,

“Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” which will air 13 episodes in season one, stars Australian newcomer Andy Whitfield as the title character, as well as Lucy Lawless, John Hannah and Peter Mensah. Exec producers are Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Joshua Donen and showrunner Steven S. DeKnight.

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