For its entire run on Showtime, "Dexter" has always aired on Sunday nights, premiering in the fall and wrapping up each season in mid-December. Now, all that is going to change. Showtime will still air "Dexter" on Sundays, but the series will premiere on June 30, instead of later this fall.
The reason Showtime has moved "Dexter" is simple: They want to use the popularity of their flagship series to help launch a new show, "Ray Donovan." Why Showtime is so worried about a new show that stars acclaimed actors Jon Voight and Liev Schrieber is anybody's guess.
But what is good for "Ray Donovan" may not be very good for "Dexter." By moving "Dexter" to a summer programming slot, ratings for the series may slip. After all, fans have been tuning in at the same time every year for the past seven years to catch the show.
"Dexter" will air at 9 p.m. during the summer, likely airing an hour before "Breaking Bad" on AMC on at least a few occasions. In addition, "Dexter" will be put up against "Whodunnit?" -- a new mystery reality competition show from Anthony E. Zuiker (the creator of "CSI"). "Whodunnit?" launches one week before "Dexter" and could make quite a splash.
"Dexter" might potentially lose some viewers to "Unforgettable," which premieres on CBS on Sunday, July 28. If the upcoming season of "Dexter" starts to fizzle midway through (as the past two seasons have arguably done), "Dexter" fans might switch over to "Unforgettable" to see what all the fuss is about.
Ratings have never been more important to "Dexter." With executives at Showtime remaining a bit cagey about whether Season 8 will be the show's final season, ratings could be a factor in whether fans get a Season 9. Season 8 will have to meet or exceed Season 7's record ratings. The penultimate Season 7 episode "Do You See What I See?" was a ratings smash. The Season 7 finale went on to score even higher ratings: a total of 2.75 million views.
As TV blog Warming Glow is quick to point out, "It's practically unheard of [for a show to bow out after a record season]…Even 'Friends,' 'Cheers,' and 'Seinfeld' were off from their record seasons [when they went off the air]."
Assuming that "Dexter" can keep up the high ratings in its new timeslot, there are plenty of reasons that Showtime would want to milk a ninth season out of their flagship series. Only time will tell, but chances are plenty of "Dexter" fans will tune in for what is likely the swan song for an aging crime drama.
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