Originals Score Big Ratings7/25/2008 8:00 PM Eastern
Cable shows didn't skip a beat last week as several original series and documentaries debuted with strong ratings performances or boosted already high viewership numbers.
USA's venerable dramedy Monk continued its remarkable ratings run, drawing 5.6 million viewers for its July 18 seventh-season premiere. The episode matched the Jan. 2008 debut episode for the second half of the show's sixth season. That season finished as the most watched ever for Tony Shalhoub's obsessive-compulsive detective, averaging 6.1 million viewers over six episodes.
Meanwhile, Monk's Friday night lineup mate Psych drew 4.8 million viewers in its third-season debut. The July 18 episode of the series, starring James Roday and Dule Hill as unorthodox private detectives, bested the 4.6 million take for its sophomore season premiere.
On the documentary front, the second part of CNN's Black in America, focusing on the black woman and family, attracted more than 2.1 million viewers in its July 23 two-hour premiere, according to the network. The series, hosted by CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O'Brien who spent more than a year tracking the stories of black men and women from all walks of life across the country, also drew nearly 1 million viewers between 25 and 54 years old.
Nielsen Media Research fast national ratings report the July 24 debut of the third part of the series, Black in America: The Black Man, drew 2.6 million viewers.
Season premieres weren't the only big ratings winners last week. ABC Family's freshman series the Secret Life of the American Teenager drew 3.1 million viewers for its July 22 episode — the most for any series telecast in the network's history.
Episode four of the series, about the life experiences of a pregnant teenager, posted a 24% improvement in total viewers from the previous week, including a 19% surge in adults 18-34 (982,000 vs. 823,000) and adults 18-49 (1.5 million vs. 1.1 million).
ABC Family officials said Secret Life was the most-watched program of the week among women 12-34 for the third time in the past four weeks.
Oxygen's Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood attracted more than 1.1 million viewers, making it Oxygen's highest-rated and most-watched Tuesday primetime program ever.
Network officials said the show, chronicling the lives of Hollywood couple Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott, marked the eighth time this year that an Oxygen program has delivered more than 1 million viewers.
Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender also set a ratings record, averaging 5.6 million viewers for its July 19 season-three finale, up 195% over last year's like time period.
Avatar: Sozin's Comet also earned the highest Avatar ratings ever with the network's target audience of kids 6-11 and tweens, with triple-digit increases in all kid and tween demos.