'Dexter' Debut Kills 'Em

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Showtime's Sept. 30 debut of its sophomore drama series Dexter set a network viewership record for a series premiere, drawing 1 million viewers.

Dexter, which stars Michael C. Hall as a Miami police officer who doubles as a serial killer, marks the first time a Showtime original series debut has reached the seven-figure viewer mark, according to network officials.

The 9 p.m. airing of the season two premiere killed the network's former record of 964,000 viewers set this past April 4 with the premiere of the Henry VIII period piece The Tudors, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The record viewer mark was also up over the 655,000 viewers the show generated for its Oct. 1, 2006 season one premiere and the 738,000 average viewers for its 12-episosde freshman season. The show's Dec. 12, 2006, finale drew 1.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

Combined with an 11 p.m. airing, Dexter's season-two premiere drew a total of 1.4 million viewers.

Showtime created a massive promotional campaign around the show, which included pouring blood-red dye in water fountains across 14 U.S. cities and cordoning each fountain off with Dexter-branded yellow tape.

Showtime's sophomore series Brotherhood could not take full advantage of the Dexter lead-in, however. The drama pitting two brothers — a mobster and a politician — against each other for control of a small Northeast town garnered 371,000 viewers in the 10 p.m. time period, below the 494,000 viewers the series generated for its July 2006 freshman season debut episode.

A midnight replay of the Brotherhood premiere garnered an additional 114,000 viewers.

Brotherhood's premiere episode did perform better than the September 2006 finale of the series' first season, which drew just 208,000 viewers, according to Nielsen.

The season two premiere also wrestled more viewers than the show's average 231,000 viewers for its freshman season.

Both the Dexter and Brotherhood episodes were part of the network's preview weekend promotion that ran Sept. 28-Sept. 30.

In other Showtime news, the network will team with sister basic cable service BET J to present a Nov. 16 boxing event from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.

The event, which will air live on Showtime, will feature 2004 U.S. Olympic Gold medalist Andre Ward and undefeated Native-American challenger Roger Cantrell, according to executives from both networks. The 26-million subscriber BET J's stand-alone event-productions arm, BET Event Productions, will assist in production and promotion of the exclusive event.

“BET Event Productions is excited to be a part of the Showtime In Paradise event and we are proud to play a pivotal role in transitioning St. Lucia into one of the most sought-after Caribbean destinations for world-class events,” said BET Event Productions president Paxton Baker in a statement. “This boxing event emphasizes BET J and BET Event Productions' commitment to delivering a diverse lineup of originals and music specials, and connecting viewers across cultures.”

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