Ray Donovan: How Will It Do?

Showtime is moving its number one series, Dexter, to the summer season for the first time to give Ray Donovan a strong lead in.  Will it work?

The following information regarding Ray Donovan is for the premiere only.  My prediction for how the series will premiere, among total viewers and in the 18-49 demographic, is after the information presented below.

Timeslot: Sundays at 10/9c
New Competition: Breaking Amish: Brave New World (TLC), Crossing Lines (NBC), Devious Maids (Lifetime), Falling Skies (TNT), Ice Road Truckers (History), Naked and Afraid (Discovery)
Analysis: Sundays are typically the hardest night for networks, as cable networks place their strongest shows on the night.  As you can see above, there are a number of cable shows airing in the hour and three (Falling Skies, Ice Road Truckers, and Naked and Afraid) target the male-skewing audience, which seems like the audience Ray Donovan is going after.  Despite the rough competition, cable series typically hold up well against the competition, unlike Sunday nights on the broadcast networks.

Lead In: Dexter (eighth and final season premiere)
Analysis: If Showtime wants a new series to become successful, there is no better lead in then their number one show, Dexter.  The most recent season premiere for Dexter nabbed 2.4 million viewers and a 1.3 A18-49.  Dexter has grown for nearly all of its season premieres, and with it being the final season (despite a first-time summer run) there is no telling how high it’ll go.  The season seven finale put up the shows biggest audience yet, scoring 2.75 million viewer.  With big numbers expected for Dexter, Ray Donovan should benefit nicely.

Most Recent Lead Out: Homeland
Analysis: The series debut of Homeland was watched by 1.08 million viewers and a 0.4 A18-49, which was the highest rated premiere on the network in eight seasons (since Dead Like Me).  The most recent episode put up 2.29 million viewers and a 0.9 A18-49.  There is no chance Ray Donovan goes that high, but I would not be surprised if it beat Homeland in the series premiere ratings department.

Promotion: 7(10 = High, 1 = Low)
Analysis: Since Showtime is a pay-network, advertising is typically non-existent on other networks.  Showtime has, however, found different ways to target audiences.  They released the pilot episode online nearly two weeks before the series premiere and placed the first episode on the season seven DVD of Dexter.  For those who pay attention to Showtime, they should be aware that Ray Donovan is premiering this Sunday at 10 o’clock.

What does all of this mean?
How will Ray Donovan do?
The show has a solid cast, with a few names to boast.  It’ll be led by Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight, who is hoping to rebound after his last attempt bombed (Lonestar).  The last show to have the lead in of Dexter went on to win big awards and premiered strong.  With all of the information presented above, I believe Ray Donovan will premiere to 1.25 million viewers and 0.6 A18-49.  To put those in perspective, I think Dexter will do around 2.7 million viewers and 1.3 A18-49, giving Ray Donovan retention of about 46% in both measures.  The numbers may seem a bit low, but most Showtime series’ start low and grow over time.  Anything around what I predicted would be a big start for the network (just see the premiere numbers for Homeland).

How do you think Ray Donovan will premiere?  Sound off below and vote in the poll.

Coming Friday: Siberia (premieres Monday on NBC)

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