Top drama debut in eight years for cabler

Showtime has reason to be pleased with its series debut of “Homeland,” which drew just over 1 million viewers for the drama’s initial telecast Sunday night.

When totaling the midnight and 2 a.m. telecasts, as well as sampling the pay cabler made available via online and On Demand, “Homeland” drew about 2.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen. By comparison, the April debut of Showtime’s “The Borgias” garnered 1.06 million for its initial airing, and “Shameless” drew 982,000 for its January preem.

“Homeland,” starring Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin, centers on a released prisoner of war who may have turned against the United States. “Homeland” is the first scripted series to be greenlit by Showtime prexy David Nevins since he arrived from Imagine Entertainment.

Show is exec produced by Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff, Michael Cuesta, Avi Nir and Ran Tellem.

Also Sunday for Showtime, its top-rated drama “Dexter” scored a healthy 2.2 million viewers in its sixth-season debut, serving as a healthy lead-in to “Homeland.” That’s best of any “Dexter” season premiere, rising 24% above last year. When adding the 11 p.m and 1 a.m. showings, “Dexter” drew 2.7 million viewers. Both “Dexter” and “Homeland” should see substantial viewer increases with additional telecasts during the week.

Showtime has yet to renew a deal with “Dexter” star and exec producer Michael C. Hall, and this strong start may give him leverage with the net. His current pact has expired and Showtime negotiating with him for future seasons.

And on PBS, Sunday’s preem of the Ken Burns-Lynn Novick docu “Prohibition” scored a strong 3.9 million viewers.

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