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Dexter Premiere Draws New Blood

The third-season premiere of Showtime’s Dexter drew 1.2 million viewers during its Sunday 9 p.m. debut, up 21% from last season’s premiere and 20% from the season finale.

The ratings made it the highest-rated drama premiere on Showtime since Nielsen Media Research started breaking out numbers for premium networks in 2004.

Dexter had the benefit of some free publicity on sister network CBS earlier this year, when reruns of the show aired on the broadcast network, which was feeling a programming pinch as a result of the writers’ strike.

The show, which was edited for content to meet Federal Communications Commission and CBS broadcast standards, drew more than 8 million viewers during its premiere on the network -- not much for CBS but more than seven times as many as its highest-rated episode on Showtime.

The season premiere of Californication also debuted Sunday, although it was down slightly from last year’s series premiere. For the night, Californication drew 785,000 viewers, down from 795,000 last season.

Showtime was quick to note that Sunday was a much more competitive environment then Californication saw last August, with Sunday Night Football on NBC.