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Ratings Five-Spot - Dexter, Hung, House, American Horror Story, The League

Here's the Ratings Five-Spot for the week ending October 9, 2011:

  • Dexter - Showtime's long-running drama returned to its best premiere numbers ever on October 2 with 2.188 million viewers and a 1.1 A18-49 rating. This show has exceeded that viewership number on several past occasions, but it's typically near the end of the season; Dexter seasons usually grow as they go along. The last two seasons premiered well below 2 million and at an 0.8 demo. If this show follows the same growth trajectory starting at these numbers, we could be in for some series highs shortly. Meanwhile, their new drama Homeland started off with 1.082 million viewers and a 0.4 demo, which Showtime says is their biggest drama debut in eight years (since Dead Like Me). It's still not a hugely impressive performance considering it lost more than half of that big Dexter audience, but let's see where it goes from here.
  • Hung - The next time someone tells you lead-ins don't mean anything in an age of heavy DVRing, tell them to look at the ratings for Hung. HBO's comedy aired its first two seasons after the massive hit True Blood and easily surpassed 2 million viewers on a regular basis. Its third season premiered on October 2, for the first time leading out of the much weaker (though still decent) Boardwalk Empire, and Hung saw its ratings crash to just 1.106 million viewers and a 0.5 18-49 rating, both less than half of any season two rating. I won't call it dead yet (tough to make prognoses on pay cable shows), but it's clear this show was being held up to a large extent by True Blood in its first couple seasons.
  • House - Despite remaining one of Fox's strongest shows, House comes into this season on the bubble largely for behind-the-scenes reasons; it's not clear if they can get Hugh Laurie to re-up, for example. However, the ratings have also been crashing, especially last season when they dropped 26% on average! But the show did get some good ratings news to kick off season eight, as the 9.78 viewers and 3.9 demo were down less than 10% from last year's premiere. The more it can keep this up, the more interest Fox will have in making a renewal happen (even if it's at least partly out of their hands). The other piece of good news last Monday on Fox was that Terra Nova held 100% of its debut rating in 18-49. We need to see more data on both shows, though I wouldn't read too much into last night's ratings; a 51-minute baseball overrun messed things up.
  • American Horror Story - FX got a great debut rating from their new drama American Horror Story, which started off with 3.184 million viewers and a 1.6 18-49 rating. The total audience is solid; in fact, it's bigger than the combined premiere audiences of their last two new dramas (the failed Terriers (1.612m) and Lights Out (1.487m)). But the really good news was its performance among young adults. The FX press release says the show pulled the highest demo rating for an FX series premiere since Nip/Tuck back in July 2003.
  • The League - FX also debuted season three of comedy The League this week to 1.292 million viewers and a 0.9 demo rating. That was a little weaker than the season two premiere (1.714m and 1.1), but it's still pretty solid considering its It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia lead-in was a little weaker than it was when League season two debuted. You want to talk about young-skewing, look at this show. I don't have any more digits after the decimal for The League's rating, but even if you round it down to an 0.85, that means it had 1.087 million 18-49 viewers (or 84% of the total audience). For comparison, Fox's animated comedies are typically the youngest-skewing shows in primetime on the big four networks, and even they only have a demo skew around 65%.
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