The return of the Showtime dramas for their third seasons on Sunday saw both Ray Donovan and Masters Of Sex beat their Season 2 debuts – thanks to online viewing from subscribers. With both shows having been up available on Showtime On Demand, Showtime Anywhere and other platforms to watch since July 2, Ray Donovan pulled in 1.61 million and Masters Of Sex had 1.1 million subscribers to the premium cabler in total for their first run premieres.
That breaks down to 1.035 million watching the 9 PM broadcast of the L.A. fixer show on Sunday at 9 PM and, according to Showtime, 572,000 sampling online over the previous 10 days. That puts the July 12 premiere up 32% over the Season 2 debut of last year. For MoS, the breakdown is 583,000 viewers at 10 PM with 260,000 in advanced sampling to bop up 2% over its July 13, 2014 S2 premiere. Because the premiere episodes were also available on YouTube, where over 43,000 have watched it, and other sites there are likely scatterings of samplings all over the Internet.
Showtime has tried these samplings before on other series but it’s worth noting that neither Ray Donovan or Masters of Sex had a Showtime On Demand or other online preview before last year’s debuts – a fact that has to have eaten into their Live + Same Day numbers in the prevailing digital reality of how audiences actually watch their TV nowadays. Add in the replay of both shows and Ray Donovan had a total subscriber viewership of 2 million and Masters Of Sex had 1.1 million.
If we were just looking at who tuned into Showtime at 9 PM on July 12, Ray Donovan would have been down 15% in total viewership from its Season 2 debut last July 13. That’s a series low. While not quite apples to apples, by the same estimation, Ray Donovan fell a hard 47% in its audience from its Season 2 finale of September 28, 2014. That Season 2 ender was the all-time high for the Golden Globe winning show. Even with the preview sampling numbers added in, the July 12 RD was down 19% from that show.
Now in its second year as the lead-out to Ray Donovan, the 10 PM Masters Of Sex saw a 29% slide in viewership from the Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan starring series’ Season 2 debut, if you are just looking a linear audience numbers. Taking the Emmy nominated show’s last finale compared to Sunday’s season premiere, MoS fell 34% in viewers. Again, like Ray Donovan, that’s a series low in Live + SD results. Add in the online preview and that decline becomes a mere 5%.
Both Ray Donovan and Masters Of Sex saw declines in their Season 2 openers from their initial debuts in 2013. However, slot shifts and lead-in changes were big factors there. The Liev Schreiber led series lost the wrapped up Dexter as its lead-in and moved from 10 PM to 9 PM while Masters Of Sex no longer had Homeland as its programming predecessor. There were no such changes this year.