FX’s biggest hit and one of the biggest shows on cable last year and the highest-rated scripted show on basic cable when DVR viewing was factored in returned last night for its season three premiere.

Sons of Anarchy‘s season premiere, while still the best performing scripted show on basic cable with adults 18-49,  was down a little bit from last year’s premiere. Last night scored 4.134 million viewers and 2.814 million adults 18-49 (a 2.1 national 18-49 rating).  Last year’s premiere scored 4.29 million total viewers and 3.028 million adults 18-49 (a 2.3 rating).

These are still great numbers and fans should not be upset by them, I’m sure FX isn’t.

Here are the ratings notes via FX:

The third season premiere episode of Sons of Anarchy got off to an great start last night delivering 4.13 million Total Viewers and 2.81 million Adults 18-49. It ranks as the third most-watched episode of Sons, just behind the season 2 premiere and season 2 finale.  SOA’s season three premiere episode is the most-watched basic cable scripted series telecast in Adults 18-49 in 2010 (See ranker below). Last night’s episode of SOA was its most-watched telecast ever in all three key women demos (W25-54, W18-49, W18-34).

Compared to its season 2 premiere, the SOA season 3 debut eased-4% in Total Viewers (4,134 vs. 4,290) and -7% in Adults 18-49 (2,814 vs. 3,028).  Compared to its complete season 2 average, last night’s episode posted increases of +13% in Total Viewers (4,134 vs. 3,667) and +10% among Adults 18-49 (2,814 vs. 2,564).

Important to remember that the complete story remains to be told – year-over-year, DVR penetration in FX’s universe is up +14% (41% vs. 36% U.S.) – and so the additional time-shifted viewing data available in a couple of weeks will complete the picture.  (On a Live+7 basis, season 2 of Sons of Anarchy averaged 4.3 million Total Viewers and 3.1 million Adults 18-49).

Here’s a look at the Live+SD (live plus same day DVR viewing) numbers for season two of Sons of Anarchy.

Show Date Viewers (000) 18-49 Rating
Sons of Anarchy 9/8/2009 4.29 2.3
Sons of Anarchy 9/15/2009 3.71 1.9
Sons of Anarchy 9/22/2009 3.49 1.9
Sons of Anarchy 9/29/2009 3.76 1.9
Sons of Anarchy 10/6/2009 3.66 2
Sons of Anarchy 10/13/2009 3.31 1.8
Sons of Anarchy 10/20/2009 3.7 2
Sons of Anarchy 10/27/2009 3.39 1.8
Sons of Anarchy 11/3/2009 3.52 1.8
Sons of Anarchy 11/10/2009 3.38 1.9
Sons of Anarchy 11/17/2009 3.48 1.9
Sons of Anarchy 11/24/2009 3.44 1.7
Sons of Anarchy 12/1/2009 4.33 2.3

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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