It was a double blast of returns from Showtime on Sunday with the Season 2 premieres of Ray Donovan and Masters Of Sex. With the former having moved from 10 PM to 9 PM and the later at 10 PM, the shows pulled in 1.22 million and 825,000 viewers, respectively. While the Donovan debut was down 13% from the Season 1 finale last fall, it slipped just 9% from the 1.35 million who watched its series premiere on June 30 last year – that served as the lead-out for the strong debut of the last season of Dexter and become the best-ever series debut in Showtime’s history. For Sex, Sunday’s number was 17% down from the 998,000 who saw its Season 1 opener last fall. Over all plays on Sunday, Ray Donovan was seen by 1.76 million while Masters Of Sex was seen by 1.12 million.
Sunday’s premieres saw a bit of change for both dramas from their debuts last year. For one thing, both shows got Emmy Awards nominations last week for co-stars Jon Voight and Lizzy Caplan. Then there’s the fact that the Hollywood fixer series changed time slots and lost the great launch pad of the long-running Dexter as its lead-in last June. The 1950s-set Sex also had prime positioning with its opener coming right after the Season 3 premiere of Homeland on September 30, 2013.
What also puts Sunday night’s results in perspective: looking at the series’ individual Season 1 finales. Sex had 1.2 million viewers watch its December 15 freshman finale. Coming right after the record-breaking series finale of Dexter, Ray Donovan had an audience of 1.406 million for its Season 1 finale on September 22 – the best the show had ever done. That show was also the most successful freshman-season finale for Showtime ever, beating out the Season 1 end of Homeland.
Both Ray Donovan and Masters Of Sex showed strong digital after-lives in their first seasons, with the former averaging 6 million viewers a week and the latter 4.9 million when DVR viewers and on-demand numbers were included.