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Disney Gets 'Halloweentown' Treat

When it comes to Halloween-related fare, viewers love Disney Channel.

The Oct. 20 premiere of original movie Return to Halloweentown notched a 5.3 rating and 7.53 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research data. Subsequent airings of Disney Channel's 66th original movie to date and fourth in the franchise also put a spell on watchers: The Oct. 21 showing attracted a 4.3 rating and 5.59 million viewers, while the Oct. 22 run conjured a 3.4 mark and 4.25 million viewers. All told, nearly 17.6 million viewers watched the movie that weekend.

Through the first four weeks of October (Sept. 25 through Oct. 22 from a Nielsen perspective) Disney Channel, benefiting from the Halloweentown franchise and other spooky stuff, averaged a 2.0 rating and 2.2 million households in primetime, trailing only sister service ESPN's 2.4 rating and 2.6 million household tally.

The Return to Halloweentown premiere ranked first among that franchise's titles with the delivery of total viewers and all key kids demos. It was also the most-watched Disney Channel Original Movie ever among adults 18 to 34 (1 million viewers) and adults 18 to 49 (1.9 million).

“This fourth movie in the Halloweentown franchise continues our incredible streak of stellar ratings, not just for the premiere, but across the weekend, and across all demos, including adults,” Disney Channel Worldwide president of entertainment Gary Marsh said. “For kids and families, the unique 'spooky-funny' sensibility coupled with extraordinary casting, music and special effects, helped build this into one of the premiere movie franchises on television.”

Return to Halloweentown marks the third Disney Channel original telefilm to average more than 7.5 million total viewers this year: megahit High School Musical garnered 7.76 million on Jan. 20, while The Cheetah Girls 2 pulled in 7.82 million on Aug. 25.

Elevated by Return to Halloweentown, Disney Channel scared up more viewers in primetime than any other basic-cable network from Oct. 16-22. Disney averaged a 2.8 household rating, 2.54 million households and 3.5 million viewers, performances that led the medium, according to Nielsen.

The movie's debut finished second only to ESPN's Oct. 16 Monday Night Football coverage of the Chicago Bears come-from-behind win against the Arizona Cardinals, which tackled an 11.7 rating and some 14.2 million viewers.

The third-season finale of Bravo's Project Runway Oct. 18 was next, garnering a network record 5.36 million viewers and a 4.6 household rating.

All told, Disney counted seven of the top 11 shows for the week of Oct. 16-22, as an episode of Hannah Montana and Halloweentown High (two showings were tied for eighth) and the original Halloweentown (11th) all resonated with viewers.

For the week, ESPN finished in second place with a 2.5 household average in primetime. USA Network was third for the week in question with a 1.8, followed by TNT's 1.6 and Nick at Nite and Cartoon Network, both with a 1.3.

Rounding out the top 10: Lifetime Television and TBS, both at a 1.2; and Fox News Channel and Hallmark Channel, both with a 1.1.