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

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.