`The Big C' Draws Big Audience

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The Aug. 16 premiere of The Big C was a big hit for Showtime.

The series, which stars Laura Linney as a do-gooder, suburban Minnesota housewife whose world is turned upside down when she learns that she has terminal cancer, averaged 1.1 million viewers during its 10:30 premiere last night, the largest audience for an original series debut for the premium service since sci-fi series Odyssey 5 premiered with 1.1 million viewers in 2002, according to the network.

Laura Linney in The Big C

The performance is especially noteworthy considering the pilot episode was available online two weeks prior to its Showtime premiere and drew more than 1.6 million web views.

The Big C, which also stars Oliver Platt, delivered an additional 429,000 viewers during an 11:30 repeat episode, bringing its nightly total to 1.5 million viewers. (MCN series review here.)

Showtime also drew large numbers for the season six premiere of Weeds, which averaged 1.26 million viewers in the 10 p.m. timeslot -- up 4% from the 1.21 million watchers generated for the last summer's season five premiere, according to the network.

With an additional 629,000 viewers garnered during an 11 p.m. repeat telecast, the Mary-Louise Parker-starrer drew a series best 1.9 million viewers for the night, said Showtime officials.