Showtime’s ‘Penny Dreadful’ Off to Promising Ratings Start

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Showtime’s well-reviewed horror series “Penny Dreadful” was a popular draw in its premiere Sunday, averaging 872,000 viewers for its first airing and 1.443 million viewers for the night — topping the network’s recent launches of “Homeland” and “Masters of Sex.”

And unlike “Homeland” and “Masters of Sex,” “Penny Dreadful” did not have the benefit of a strong drama lead-in. It also bowed at a time of lower viewing levels than the others, which opened in the fall.

An additional 900,000 subscribers sampled the series in the two weeks leading up to its premiere Sunday or Showtime on Demand and Showtime Anytime, according to Nielsen. This brings the total for “Penny” to 2.3 million viewers.

The series premiere was also offered across multiple platforms including YouTube, the Showtime website, via a number of television providers’ websites, on the Showtime Preview app on Smart TVs, as well as for download as a free video podcast on iTunes. Additional online sampling data will be available in the upcoming weeks for those platforms though early data shows that over 500,000 non-Showtime viewers have sampled the series to-date.

According to Showtime, roughly 62% of the “Penny Dreadful” audience was comprised of adults under 50, making it the youngest-skewing audience for a drama since the premiere of “Dexter” in 2006 (65%).

Showtime offered a Free Preview weekend, but the data for those non-subscribers is not included in the 2.3 million-viewer count.


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  1. JoeR says:

    LOL. I absolutely do NOT work for, nor am I affiliated in any way with Showtime. I’m just a movie fan who subscribes to all the premium channels…Starz, EPIX, HBO, Max, Showtime, and The Movie Channel. And while some may have an original show or two that are exceptional, I just feel that Showtime/TMC are the best overall. And, as a film watcher, I appreciate that they show movies without the negative alterations that other channels force on us. Why directors allow it, I’ll never know. (Only Steven Soderbergh has fought against it.) Their recent originals (I wonder if people remember that long-running series like STARGATE and OUTER LIMITS originated on Showtime) aren’t afraid of pushing the envelope. That doesn’t mean I like everything they’ve offered. For example, I could give a rat’s a** about THE L WORD). And, unlike other Premiums, they actually seem to listen to their subscribers. (HBO couldn’t care less.) As for PENNY DREADFUL, remember this is only the first episode. Characters will probably become more fleshed out as it progresses. Heck, we haven’t even met them all yet! (Surprise ending in the second ep.) As it is, they did a bang-up job with the premiere. So no, I’m not their employee…just a satisfied consumer who appreciates what they do consistently. Nothing more..

  2. Daisy says:

    JoeR below me (or above me, depends on how the comments post) is totally working for Showtime. I don’t KNOW but I suspect. lol. Penny Dreadful, well, it was okay. The writing could be more impressive and the characters better drawn. The sets were cool.

  3. JoeR says:

    From airing the totally unique series SHAMELESS to their policy of airing theatrical films in their complete, uncropped entirety (something HBO never allows), SHowtime remains the best Premium channel on cable. So I’m very pleased to read that ratings were good for the premiere of PENNY DREADFUL. I’ve seen the first two episodes and I’m IN for the duration. I’d almost say that this is more like what THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN movie should have been like. The show also seems to have captured the Victorian area quite well (something that NBC’s DRACULA was unable to do.) Timothy Dalton is always a treat and Eva Green…well, nuff said.

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