Showtime’s “Homeland” has established itself as the network’s hottest show, surging to a season high as it closed its third season Sunday night.

According to Nielsen estimates that include same-night DVR playback, an average audience of 2.4 million watched the 9 p.m. telecast — up 12% from its year-ago finale (2.285 million), which had been the show’s previous high. Sunday’s season-ender marked the third straight telecast to top 2 million, building on the 2.06 million for the Dec. 2 episode and 2.09 million for the Dec. 9 episode.

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Add in the roughly 500,000 who watched the quickie repeat at 11 p.m., and “Homeland” amassed 2.9 million viewers on Sunday, also a high for the show.

Perhaps most impressive about “Homeland’s” third-season surge is that it did it without the help of “Dexter.” The serial killer drama, which ended its eight-season run in September with 2.8 million viewers, had been the CIA thriller’s lead-in for its first two seasons.

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According to Showtime, “Homeland” has been averaging 7 million weekly viewers, up 18% from last season.

“Homeland” was followed Sunday by the first-season finale of “Masters of Sex,” which drew roughly 1.2 million viewers for its 10 p.m. telecast and about 1.5 million for the night. “Masters” premiered in September to 998,000 in its regular timeslot and peaked with its penultimate episode of the season (1.234 million).

“Homeland” and “Masters of Sex”  will return for their fourth and second seasons, respectively, in 2014.