Miniseries opens to 2.6 million total viewers

“Political Animals” got off to a soft start for USA Network on Sunday night.

Miniseries from Greg Berlanti drew 2.6 million viewers in episode that ran slightly more than an hour, drawing 834,000 in adults 25-54 and 675,000 in the 18-49 demo.

Cabler is anticipating more traction once live-plus-3 figures come in. Sunday competition in the 10 p.m. timeslot included the return of “Breaking Bad” on AMC, “Longmire” on A&E and “The Newsroom” on HBO.

For the most part, mini received positive reviews but didn’t reach nearly as many viewers as USA execs would have hoped.

“It’s not the numbers we were looking for, but critical acclaim doesn’t always lead to ratings,” said network co-president Jeff Wachtel.

“We wanted to see better live numbers, but this is still a real big brand push for us,” said co-president Chris McCumber. “We think there will be a better story to tell with the live-plus-3 and the live-plus-7 numbers, and we think we’ll have a better quality audience, too, in terms of those who have never watched us before.”

McCumber and Wachtel said they planned to air the series immediately on several websites, including the net’s own, Hulu and iTunes to generate more viewers. The co-prexies were confident that the more eyeballs “Political Animals” received, the more viewers would get attached to the six-hour project and stay with it.

The small immediate turnout, however, decreases the chances that the mini could lead to a full-fledged drama series, which was a goal of the network.

Project, from Warner Horizon, stars Sigourney Weaver as a Hillary Clinton-like secretary of state who is dealing with personal and professional issues. Co-stars include James Wolk, Ciaran Hinds and Carla Cugino.

Berlanti, who wrote and directed Sunday’s pilot, exec produces with Laurence Mark.

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