TNT's 'Murder in the First' Tops New Cable Dramas

Leading out from the third-season premiere of Major Crimes, TNT’s Murder in the First tallied nearly 4 million viewers in its debut on Monday night.

The Steven Bochco-produced crime drama averaged 3.8 million watchers in the 10 p.m. hour on June 9, according to Nielsen data. That made it basic-cable’s top series launch thus far in 2014, according to TNT officials, and the network’s best since Major Crimes scored with 7.2 million viewers, as it debuted behind the series-concluding episode of Kyra Sedgwick-starrer The Closer, which stood as the medium’s leading series before the arrival of AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Murder in the First’s June 9 bow included 808,000 persons 18 to 49 and 1.1 million adults 25 to 54.

Tacking on another 1.1 million for its immediately following encore, Murder in the First notched 4.9 million viewers on its opening night, a total that saw it add 300,000 of the demo Madison Avenue values most during the encore, as well as with the older group. The telecast now ranks as one of the year's Top 10 new series launches on basic cable with adults 18 to 49 and adults 25 to 54.

For its part, Major Crimes was the solution for 5.2 million viewers in its third-season beginning in the 9 p.m. hour  -- the most in basic cable so far in 2014 -- and 6.7 million overall when it’s encore for the evening was accounted for.  

On the demo front, Major Crimes took in combined deliveries of 1.6 million persons 18 to 49, including 1.2 million for the 9 p.m. season premiere, and 2 million adults 25 to 54, 1.5 million of whom watched the premiere.

As such, Major Crimes registered across-the-board growth compared to last summer's season two bow. The 9 p.m. telecast grew by 3% among total viewers, 6% among adults 25 to 54 and 1% among the 18-to-49 set. The combined premiere and encore audience was also up by +3% compared to last year.

"Last night was a terrific opening night for TNT's summer lineup, as well as the start of what's certain to be a summer of outstanding TNT dramas," said Michael Wright, president, head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies. "We are extremely proud of these two series. Major Crimes is a true mega-hit as it enters its third season, with an ensemble cast that's second to none. Murder in the First is off and running with an utterly captivating mystery brought to life by an amazing cast."

Major Crimes and Murder in the First set the stage for what’s a busy summer season for TNT. Its originals slate includes the fifth season of Rizzoli & Isles and third campaign of Perception, premiering on Tuesday, June 17; the action series The Last Ship and season four of Falling Skies, bowing on Sunday, June 22; undercover drama Legends and the fourth turn of Franklin & Bash, debuting Wednesday, Aug. 13. The second half of the Dallas remake’s third season starts on Monday, Aug. 18.

TNT will also launch new episodes of its real-life investigation series, Cold Justice, beginning Friday, June 20.