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‘Dexter’ returns with a vengeance

Showtime's serial killer attracts record numbers

Showtime’s “Dexter” returned with a vengeance Sunday, becoming the cabler’s first series to score more than 1 million viewers with a premiere seg.

Skein’s second-season opener snagged 1.09 million eyeballs at 9 p.m., a whopping 67% above the serial killer drama’s 2006 series premiere. More impressively, seg was up nearly 40% over the show’s 2006 season average of 624,000 viewers, according to Nielsen data.

“Dexter” did even better when the viewership from the 11 p.m. Sunday repeat is factored in. The encore drew 414,000 viewers, bringing the skein’s nightly total to 1.42 million viewers. Showtime is available in roughly 14 million homes, though the cabler opened its signal to tens of millions more consumers last weekend via a free preview promotion. That no doubt contributed to “Dexter’s” impressive opening perf.

Strong numbers for “Dexter” also boosted returning drama “Brotherhood.” It averaged 371,000 viewers at 10 p.m. Sunday –substantially higher than the skein’s season-one average of 207,000 viewers. Counting a midnight repeat, “Brotherhood” notched 485,000 viewers, doubling the tune-in for last year’s finale.

On the downside, “Brotherhood” lost a huge chunk of its “Dexter” lead-in, tumbling more than 60% from Showtime’s 9 p.m. numbers.

Cabler said a seven-minute break between the end of “Dexter” and the start of “Brotherhood” may have contributed to the mass exodus. This Sunday, cabler plans to make a seamless transition between the two shows.