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'Spartacus: Vengeance' Slices New Starz Viewing Record

Starz's sandals and sword franchise returned with a vengeance Friday as its latest Spartacus franchise entry scored the largest audience for an original series debut in the premium network's history.

The pilot episode of Spartacus: Vengeance debuted Jan. 27 at 10 p.m. to just under 1.39 million viewers, with the encore in the hour immediately following capturing another 677,000 watchers, according to Nielsen fast national data. The combined 2.1 million watchers on Friday night eclipsed the 1.9 million who tuned in the premiere of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena over two airings.

Starz added another 600,000 watchers with a pair of other encores -- records for a fifth showing were not available at press time -- lifting its linear opening weekend tally to some 2.7 million watchers.

Moreover, various online and on-demand sampling efforts drew an additional 1.4 million watchers, pushing pilot viewers pass the 4 million mark and counting, according to Starz officials.