Having read this, I was really expecting the worst for the series premiere of FX's Sons of Anarchy. I haven't seen the full ratings but I did see that "Sons" garnered a 1.6/3 household rating/share and a 1.2/3 among 18-49 year olds. What I didn't see is total viewers, but the 1.2 in the 18-49 demo averages out to about 1.5 million 18-49 year old viewers. The 1.6 household rating would put it in about 1.8 million homes. While it's not possible to calculate total viewers based on the household rating, it's fair to guess that the number of total viewers will be better than 2 million viewers.
TV Week reports that the 18-49 ratings were better than both the season premiere of the final season of FX's The Shield, and also better than last year's series premiere of FX's Damages.
Considering that 18.4 million or so were watching the Palin speech at 10pm on cable news channels alone (FNC had over 9 million by itself) not to mention another 17.4 million who watched the speech on ABC, CBS and NBC, the results for the premiere hardly seem muted to me, though admittedly the timing wound up being less than optimal for FX. in the face of that fierce competition, I'd say "Sons" held its own quite well.
Update:The Hollywood Reporter reports "Sons" averaged 2.5 million total viewers. This is lower than both the premieres of Damages (3.7 million in July '07) and The Riches (3.8, January '07). In light of the comparisons in total viewers, I can understand why one could find these numbers muted.
But if it outperformed Damages' series premiere in the 18-49 demo as the TV Week article suggested, doing so with 1.2 million fewer total viewers is an accomplishment. The Hollywood Reporter article notes that the repeat airing at 11:16pm drew another 1.2 million viewers and an additional 870,000 18-49 viewers.