It was a big night for Showtime on Sunday. First, the premium cabler had a surprise win at the Golden Globes for freshman The Affair. Then Showtime had some big comedy premieres on with big draw Shameless back for its fifth season and House Of Lies returning for a fourth cycle. The former was almost even with its last season opener, while the latter was down double digits.
The tales of the seemingly endlessly self-sabotaging Gallaghers of Chicago’s South Side drew 1.77 million viewers last night at 9 PM. That’s a 4% rise from the 1.694 million who watched Shameless’ Season 4 debut on January 12 last year, but down 8% from the audience of 1.93 million that the show had for it Season 4 finale last spring — that episode marked the series’ most-watched episode of its last run.
Over all its plays Sunday, Shameless had 2.34 million viewers, also basically steady with last year’s premiere. And of course there’ll be more of the Gallaghers: The William H. Macy-led series was renewed for a sixth season on Monday.
There wasn’t a repeat of star Don Cheadle’s 2013 Golden Globe win this year, and there wasn’t a repeat of House Of Lies’ past premieres. The Season 4 debut Sunday pulled in 723,000 viewers at 10 PM, a 14% slide from the 842,000 viewers its Season 3 debut had last January 12. While nowhere near the 1.03 million and all-time high 1.19 million viewers of the respective Season 1 and Season 2 debuts, this weekend’s opener was steady with the Season 3 finale on April 6 last year. That House Of Lies had 731,000 total viewers.
The premieres came as Showtime had a Free Preview Weekend as well as putting the first episode of the respective shows’ new seasons online for the past few days beforehand. Being that Showtime actually only counts subscribers in its numbers, the actual viewership for both shows could turn out to be much higher.