Ooooh look out American Idol! Crafty work by ABC producers has vaulted its top reality dog Dancing with the Stars to almost Idol-like proportions, easily winning the night and reinvigorating a show that had been slipping in ratings over the last few seasons.
Dancing with the Stars season eight premiere was watched by 22.7 million viewers with a 5.9 rating and 15 share in the 8-49 demo, up nine percent from last season, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That's the most-watched Dancing premiere ever, which bodes well for the rest of the season as averages typically climb from each season's debut.
The bump may actually be attributed to a blessing in disguise and ABC's other reality show The Bachelor. When an injury forced Access Hollywood's Nancy O'Dell out of the competition, ABC replaced her at the last minute with Bachelor winner/loser Melissa Rycroft, who was the talk of TV land last week after being publicly dumped by Bachelor's bachelor Jason Mesnick. With so much public support out there for Melissa, it's probable that much of The Bachelor's huge audience tuned in to root on Melissa.
The situation also provided plenty of Mesnick bashing and jokes about Melissa's second appearance on an ABC reality show. And with her dancing background (Melissa is a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader), her lack of preparation wasn't noticeable as she received the second-highest score of the night.
Unfortunately, much of Dancing's audience didn't stick around for the series premiere of Castle, a new mystery-solving show with a dollop of romance. Castle was watched by 11.6 million viewers and got a 3.3 rating/9 share, slightly disappointing given its slot behind Dancing.
Elsewhere, Fox finished second thanks to House and 24, CBS dropped to third with Summer Glau's appearance on The Big Bang Theory (9.5 million, 3.6/10) not boosting ratings, and NBC crawled along to fourth place with series lows for both Heroes (6.6 million, 3.2/8) and Chuck (5.7 million, 2.0/5). Still sure about that "unofficial" Heroes pickup, NBC?