Primetime Ratings: ABC Wins With Most-Watched ‘Dancing' Premiere Ever

Viewership was up by 1.3 million viewers from last year

The season premiere of Dancing With the Stars pulled big numbers for ABC Monday night in what was the most-watched premiere of the show's eight season history and second-highest ever in the 18-49 demo. Viewership was up by 1.3 million viewers from last year. The two-hour special was especially strong in the second hour, starting at 9 p.m., where it delivered a 6.6/16 rating and 23.7 million total viewers.  Besides the Academy Awards, it was ABC's most-watched telecast since November 2007.

If there was down-side to the night for ABC it was that the debut of new cop show Castle lost a lot of the Dancing audience and fell to second place at 10.

On the night, ABC finished at 5.1/13 with 18.9 million average viewers. Fox was next at 4.2/11 followed by CBS at 4.0/10. NBC earned a fourth place 2.5/7 finish, and the CW was fifth at 0.5/1.

Dancing With the Stars was fast out of the gate at 8 p.m. with a 5.3/14 for the hour, beating out second place House on Fox, which earned a 4.8/13. CBS was third at 3.6/10 for The Big Bang Theory (3.6/10) and How I Met Your Mother (3.5/9) at 8 and 8:30 respectively. NBC's Chuck pulled a 2.0/5 for fourth place, and the CW was in fifth with a re-run of Gossip Girl pulling in at 0.5/1.

The numbers kept rising for ABC as Dancing With the Stars picked up more viewers in each of its four half-hour blocks. From 9:30-10 the program got a 6.7/16 and averaged almost 24 million viewers, both highs on the night. For the entire 9 p.m. hour Dancing did a 6.6/16 with 23.7 million tuning in. CBS's comedy block moved up to second place with Two and a Half Men (4.7/11) and Rules of Engagement (3.7/9) delivering a cumulative 4.2/10. Fox dropped to third with 24 at 3.6/9. NBC finished fourth with a 3.2/8 for Heroes. The CW was even at 0.5/1 with a re-run of One Tree Hill.

At 10 p.m. ABC's mystery show Castle debuted at 3.3/9, losing 10 million viewers from the Dancing With the Stars audience from 10-10:30 p.m. In first was CBS's CSI: Miami at 4.3/11. NBC was third at 2.5/6 with Medium.