Showtime’s flagship series Shameless opened its ninth season — and last with co-lead Emmy Rossum — on Sunday with 1.31 million viewers for its 9 PM premiere telecast. While that was down from the dramedy’s Season 8 debut (1.86 million), it was higher than its Season 7 opener (1.24 million) and than any other recent Showtime season/series premieres.
The network used its biggest hit to launch its high-profile new dark comedy series Kidding, which marks Jim Carrey’s return to television. It drew 443,000 viewers at 10 PM. That was well below the debut in the same post-Shameless season premiere slot last year for breakout comedy SMILF (768,000) with a stronger Shameless lead-in. SMILF‘s lead-in retention was 41%, vs. Kidding’s 33%. The latter benefited from having a highly recognizable star in Carrey, while SMILF’s creator/star Frankie Shaw was virtually unknown before she got her break with the Showtime series.
Kidding was made available before its linear debut, garnering 360,000 viewers for the 10-day sneak. Its total Sunday night viewership, including premiere at 10 PM and replays at 10:35 PM, midnight and 1 AM, was 787,000 for a grand total of 1.15 million.
Shameless delivered 1.68 million viewers across four telecasts for the premiere night, down from 2.17 million last year. Its Season 9 premiere night total, including same-day streaming/SOD (530K) and sneak was 2.21 million viewers.
The linear premiere accounted for 20% of Shameless’ episode average viewership in Season 8.
According to Showtime, it had its biggest weekend ever for subscriber acquisitions for its stand-alone streaming service, with Shameless and Kidding driving the single best series premiere day for sign-ups this year. As usual, the pay cable network did not provide figures with the statement.
The most recent biggest sign-up weekend was a little over a months ago, July 28-29, which featured a boxing match and Episode 3 of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who is America.