Dramas propel Showtime to best-ever Sunday night

A week after winning the Emmy for best drama series, the soph-season bow of “Homeland” helped Showtime score its best-ever Sunday ratings.

The Fox 21 drama opened to 1.7 million viewers in its 10 p.m. premiere telecast, and topped 2 million for the night. The seventh-season opener of “Dexter” delivered a series-best 3 million viewers over two airings.

For the initial telecast, “Homeland” was up 60% from the same time last year, when it drew a little more than 1 million viewers in its initial telecast. Its frosh-season finale grabbed 1.7 million viewers, which grew to 5 million viewers with repeated plays on-air and online.

The 2 million for “Homeland” also marked the best season-two premiere for any Showtime series.

“Homeland” stars Danes as a CIA agent who is trying to determine whether a former prisoner of war (Lewis) is actually a spy for Al Qaeda.

“Dexter” opened to 2.4 million viewers at 9 p.m., and picked up about 600,000 viewers in a subsequent airing. It ranks as the most-watched telecast of the year for the CBS-owned pay cabler.

The Showtime shows’ perf was made more impressive by the fierce competition in primetime on Sunday. HBO offered the third episode of “Boardwalk Empire,” which drew 2.4 million at 9 p.m. and 695,000 for a repeat telecast at 11 p.m. On the broadcast side, a tight NFL game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles on NBC brought in more than 20 million viewers.

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