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Spartacus returned for the start of its final season last Friday night and the numbers are in and while they're strong for the pay cable channel, they're not quite as high as the premieres for previous seasons of the historical-fantasy drama series. War of the Damned's premiere fell behind Gods of the Arena and Vengeance when factoring in the total numbers by the end of the weekend.
EW reports that Spartacus: War of the Damned premiered on Friday night at 9:00 p.m. to an audience of 930,000 viewers. The full total for the weekend, when factoring in encore airings was 2.5 million viewers. Again, that's certainly not bad for the premium cable channel, but it falls short of prequel season Gods of the Arena (the second season to air), which earned 2.8 million viewers and last season's Vengeance, which earned 2.7 million.
It's probable that there are some fans of the show that haven't gotten around to watching the episode yet but plan to with one of the encore airings between now and Friday. Starz has also made the season premiere available on their website.
Spartacus: War of the Damned picked up a few months after Vengeance left off and introduced us to part of Spartacus' new opposition, Marcus Crassus. (Spoiler alert) In this Friday night's episode, Crassus will enlist the help of a young Julius Caesar in his attempt to take Spartacus and his growing army of rebel slaves down. As EW points out, it's the final season so the ratings might not seem crucial, however the network has been reportedly toying with the idea of a Caesar-focused spin-off, so viewership of the current season of Spartacus could be a deciding factor in whether or not that happens.
You can get a look at Caesar in the preview for "Wolves at the Gate" here. And read our breakdown of the War of the Damned premiere here.