By James Hibberd
Updated October 03, 2011 at 07:38 PM EDT

Dexter has been a ratings marvel for Showtime, bucking the usual TV pattern and growing every season. Sunday’s sixth season opener was no exception: Dexter returned to 2.2 million viewers — up 24 percent from last year and ranking as the show’s biggest opening yet.

Meanwhile the network’s new terrorism drama Homeland also performed well by Showtime standards. Benefiting from its strong Dexter lead-in, the drama scored 1.1 million viewers during its premiere episode, which makes it the most-watched hour-long drama in eight years on the network. If you include OnDemand and online viewing, a total of 1.4 million viewers checked out the show. Overall, a strong start for Showtime’s Sunday night dramas despite opening against the intensely competitive second week of the broadcast season.