“The Droughtlander has ended,” Starz boasted this morning with word that the midseason debut of its crunchy-gravel drama Outlander starz-1-logodelivered more than 1.22 million viewers at 9 PM Saturday, marking a 69% increase over the series’ premiere last summer (721K) despite strong head-to-head competition with NCAA Men’s Basketball semifinal (Kentucky-Wisconsin). The midseason premiere at 9 PM Saturday also delivered the second-highest female viewership of any original Starz episode ever, bringing in more than 760,000 women 18+ in Live+SD, behind only behind the series’ midseason finale (887,000). Women made up 62% of the series premiere episode’s viewership and 59% of the total weekend audience; the episode was the first of eight that make up Part 2 of Season 1.

Over the weekend, Outlander clocked about 2.4 million, holding steady against the season average weekend viewership.

The midseason return of Outlander trended on Facebook for more than 12 hours Saturday night and ranked No. 2 in Nielsen ratings for Twitter conversation volume among TV series on premiere day.

Remains to be seen if the second half of the season outperforms the first half, which averaged 5.1 million viewers per episode when results of various viewings were crunched.

In August, on the heels of its series premiere, Starz renewed the time-travel saga from developer/executive producer Ronald D. Moore and Sony Pictures TV for a second season. “The overwhelming support Outlander has received from the fans, viewers and critics made the decision for us to go ahead with the second book a very easy one,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said at the time.