While I was a big fan of the debut of The Killing, I’ll admit I had my doubts about the ratings: the show was compelling, but also moody and deliberate, and that made me worry it might end up being Cop Rubicon. Instead, The Killing had the second-best debut ever for an AMC series, behind only last fall’s The Walking Dead, with 2.7 million viewers. Granted that’s only somewhat better than Rubicon, which debuted strong before trailing off, so no one should pop the champagne yet, but it puts the show ahead of AMC’s recently re-upped Mad Men.
And on a big weekend for cable debuts, there was a lot of good news to go around: The Borgias outdrew its predecessor The Tudors with 1.1 million viewers for Showtime, Camelot did even better for Starz with over 1.4 million viewers (the best debut yet for that channel), and a lot of publicity, if not critical praise, got enough people to find Reelz on their cable guides to give miniseries The Kennedys a solid debut at 1.9 million viewers (which I have to guess is a big multiple of any other number Reelz has ever put up).
[Update: There’s some controversy over this last number. Joe Adalian of the Vulture blog, reports that the number was actually 1.3 million, and that Reelz may have been reporting cumulative figures, or the total of viewers who watched only part of the broadcast, which is not usual ratings-reporting practice. In any case, still probably a big number by Reelz standards.]
All these ratings, of course, would be cancellation territory on a broadcast network, but ratings are relative in cable, where the business model involves subscription and carriage fees (as well as, in some cases, ads). All in all, a good weekend, if you happened to like any of the series that debuted.