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Drake & Josh Holiday Film Fills Nick With Ratings Joy

Nickelodeon received an early holiday ratings gift Friday as its Merry Christmas Drake & Josh original movie drew 8.1 million total viewers, a network record for a live action film.

The movie, which re-untied long-running Drake & Josh series stars Drake Bell, Josh Peck and Miranda Cosgrove, beat out the 7.6 million viewers generated by Nick’s Nov. 8 iGo To Japan telepic which also starred Cosgrove and is based on her popular iCarly series, according to Nick.

The movie also drew a network record 4.3 million kids 2-11 and ranked as the No. 1 entertainment show on cable for the week of Dec. 1 to Dec. 7, topped only by the 8.8 million viewers that tuned into ESPN’s Dec. 1 Jacksonville Jaguars-Houston Texans Monday Night Football contest.

Merry Christmas Drake & Josh also ranks as the number-three entertainment telecast with total viewers on cable for the year-to-date, behind only Nick’s Feb. 18 Fairly Oddbaby animated movie (8.8 million viewers) and Disney Channel’s  June 20 original movie Camp Rock (8.9 million.).

The movie, which also featured MMA wrestler Kimbo Slice, finishes a banner ratings year for Nickelodeon’s original teen-targeted films. Five of the network’s 2008 telpics drew more than 5 million viewers: the aforementioned Merry Christmas Drake & Josh, iGo To Japan and Fairly Oddbaby as well as two movies based on Jamie Lynn Spears starrer series Zoey 101 – the May 12 Chasing Zoey (5.1 million) and the Jan. 4 Goodbye Zoey (7.3 million).