Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga star in the new A&E series, "Bates… (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles…)
The grand opening of "Bates Motel" prompted quite the turnout. The new A&E drama averaged 3 million viewers in its 10 p.m. time slot.
Not quite as many checked in as they did for last summer’s launch of the network's other original drama “Longmire” -- which premiered to 4.1 million total viewers -- but the “Psycho” prequel held its own in key adult demographics. It brought in 1.6 million viewers among adults 18-49 and adults 25-54 -- becoming the network’s most-watched original drama series debut in those demos.
But this is 2013 and looking solely at an inaugural broadcast’s performance is so 1987. Across multiple broadcasts, the drama nabbed 4.6 million total viewers, with 2.5 million of those in adults 18-49 and adults 25-54.
REVIEW: Review: 'Bates Motel' a twisty, moody modern prequel to 'Psycho'
The older-skewing network seems to have found its in with younger viewers. In addition to the “Bates Motel” numbers, the network’s reality series “Duck Dynasty” does especially well in the 18-49 demo -- its most recent episode tallied 4.7 million viewers in the demo.
Ahead of its launch, Bob DeBitetto, president and general manager of the network, acknowledged the heightened pressure of launching the series at a time when cable originals have risen to the top of the ratings game.
"The bar has been set very high," he said. "We think about that with everything that we do now. I think the show measures up to the really fine scripted work that we are all enjoying on pay and basic cable platforms."
But will viewers prolong their stay with the “Bates Motel”? A&E can only hope. The network gave the show, which was developed for TV by Carlton Cuse (“Lost”) and Kerry Ehrin (“Friday Night Lights”), a big boost of confidence with a straight-to-series order last year for a 10-episode run.
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