Ratings: Starz’s ‘Pillars’ Debuts to 424,000

The debut of the medieval miniseries didn’t match the premiere of “Spartacus”

Final ratings totals are in for the first two hours of Starz' epic medieval miniseries "Pillars of the Earth," which premiered Friday night to 424,000 viewers.

"Pillars" came in behind Starz' last original miniseries — the Roman gladiator drama "Spartacus: Blood and Sand."

"Spartacus" brought in 553,000 viewers for its January debut, ranking as Starz' most-watched original show of all time.

Numbers for "Pillars" didn't reflect multi-play viewing on re-broadcasts and DVR or the 267,000 viewers who watched the show on Encore. The premiere of "Pillars of the Earth" was shown on both networks.

Ratings for "Pillars" and "Spartacus" weren't jaw-dropping, but they may be signs of growth for Starz.

In the past, Starz has had trouble coming up with successful original series to match its premium cable rivals, Showtime and HBO. Its most recent effort, the cater-waiter comedy "Party Down," was canceled in June after posting dismal ratings.

"Party Down" averaged just 74,000 viewers for its series finale in June. 

In January, Chris Albrecht, former chairman and CEO of HBO, became president and CEO of Starz. He said his mission was to make Starz more of a player in the premium cable landscape with original period dramas. "Pillars" was his first series acquisition.

As of December 2009, just prior to Albrecht's arrival, Starz had 16.9 million subscribers, compared with 28.9 million for HBO and 17.7 million for Showtime.