'Mad Men' premiere draws 2.3 million, lowest season debut since 2008

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[April 15, 2014]  LOS ANGELES (Reuters) Advertising drama "Mad Men," facing a night of stiff competition on cable television, drew 2.3 million viewers to the premiere of its seventh and final season, network AMC said on Monday.

Sunday's hourlong episode was unable to match the 3.4 million that watched its sixth season premiere last year, according to data compiled by Nielsen and released by AMC.

It was the fewest people to watch a season premiere episode of the 1960s advertising world drama starring Jon Hamm as the unstable ad man Don Draper since season two in 2008.

The episode faced off against MTV's annual celebrity-filled movie awards show aimed at younger audiences. "Mad Men" also aired right after HBO's hourlong ratings juggernaut, fantasy epic "Game of Thrones."

The hourlong HBO show averaged 6.3 million viewers on Sunday. Audience figures for the MTV Movie Awards have not been released, but the show averaged 3.8 million viewers last year.

Emmy-winning "Mad Men" averaged about 2.7 million same-day viewers in season six and 3.8 million overall viewers, including those who recorded the show and watched it later in the week.

Its seventh season will be split into two parts with the final seven episodes to air in spring 2015.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; editing by Mary Milliken and Jonathan Oatis)

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