Online sampling may have lessened viewer totals for preem

Showtime’s “Weeds” drew 805,000 for the launch of its eighth and final season Sunday, down from the 1.1 million who tuned in to the show’s season-seven preem.

Also Sunday, the season-two debut of Matt LeBlanc’s “Episodes” drew 486,000, down significantly from the 768,000 the show garnered in its series premiere a year ago.

When Sunday’s repeat airings are included, the “Weeds” audience expanded to 1.3 million for the night, the “Episodes” aud to 734,000.

Both shows, however, were up from last season’s averages and had online sampling available before Sunday’s telecasts, which may have depressed the opening-night numbers. Weather issues and blackouts in several cities around the country may have also been a factor.

Pay cabler recently announced that this would be the final season of “Weeds,” which stars Mary-Louise Parker as a drug-dealing suburban mom. Series, from Lionsgate, was created by Jenji Kohan, who exec produces with Roberto Benabib, Matthew Salsberg and Mark A. Burley.

“Episodes,” in which LeBlanc plays himself, was co-created by David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik. They exec produce with Jimmy Mulville.

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