Comedy delivers top scripted cable series premiere

The series premiere of new Charlie Sheen starrer “Anger Management” on FX drew 5.5 million viewers, including 2.7 million in adults 18-49, making it the most-watched scripted cable comedy series premiere ever in the demo.

The launch, also the most watched series premiere in FX history in total viewers, actually finished second on the night for the cabler to the second episode of “Anger,” which drew 5.7 million (2.9 million in 18-49). The 18-49 rating was 2.1 for the premiere and 2.3 for episode two.

Given an initial order of 10 episodes with another 90 obligated for pickup if it hits certain ratings benchmarks, “Anger” showed it is likely to see a long run on FX. A year ago in the same 9 p.m. Thursday timeslot on FX, 1.8 million viewers watched a rerun of “Two and a Half Men” with Sheen.

The official season premieres of “Wilfred” (2.5 million overall, 1.5 million in 18-49) and “Louie” (1.4 million overall, 0.9 million in the demo) also showed considerable improvement from last year, with increases in total viewers of 71% and 55% respectively. Each delivered the second-highest-rated episodes in their history.

“Wilfred” drew 2.0 million in its 10 p.m. Thursday airing a year ago, while “Louie” had 1.3 million.

FX latenight skein “BrandX with Russell Brand” drew 1.1 million overall (687,000 in 18-49) for its series premiere Thursday.

The “Anger Management” numbers topped the most recent series premiere on FX, “American Horror Story” in September, which reached 3.2 million.

FX’s top mark for a season premiere in the past year was the 4.9 million that tuned in for “Sons of Anarchy” in September. Justified had 3.1 million for its season premiere in January, while comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” had 2.3 million for its season debut last September.

The final broadcast network episode of “Two and a Half Men” on CBS had a total audience of 14.5 million. The Comedy Central roast of Sheen, which aired in September on the same night as the first episode of “Men” with Ashton Kutcher, drew 6.4 million.

Rick Kissell contributed to this report.

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