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Showtime’s Tudors Commands Royal Ratings

For Showtime, it was good to have the king -- Jonathan Rhys Meyers in his portrayal of Henry VIII, that is.

The April 1 premiere of the premium network’s original series, The Tudors, at 10 p.m. drew almost 870,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

Coupled with the 404,000 viewers who tuned in the hour immediately following, Showtime averaged 1.3 million viewers for the show’s debut night, the most since the service premiered Fat Actress in March 2005. Audience composition tilted slightly toward the distaff side: 54% female compared with 46% for men.

Showtime officials said The Tudors’ 10 p.m. bow outperformed the inaugural linear screenings for Weeds and Dexter, the network’s leading comedy and drama, respectively, by 78% in August 2005 and 44% in October 2006, respectively. Moreover, The Tudors’ debut night bested the 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. combos for Weeds and Dexter by 49% and 23%, respectively.

The series also proved its mettle opener in the digital realm, earning a combined 1 million views online and on-demand via cable affiliates and through and such partners as Yahoo, MSN, Netflix and IMDB.

Showtime officials said that number should grow considerably once data from AOL, DirecTV and EchoStar Communications’ Dish Network become available.