Disney Channel’s Friday night premiere of its original movie High School Musical 2 sung and danced its way to the most viewed basic cable show in history.
An ABC Cable analysis of Nielsen Media Research data reports that Disney’s Aug. 17 debut of the much-hyped original movie drew 17.2 million viewers, tackling the previous high of 16.0 million viewers garnered for ESPN’s Oct. 23, 2006 New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys Monday Night Football game.
The two-hour movie easily topped Turner Network Television’s Crossfire Trail (15.5 million viewers) as the most watched basic cable movie of all time.
As for its target tween audience, the movie drew 5.9 million 9-14 year olds, ranking it as the second most watched entertainment telecast ever, behind the 6.75 million drawn for the 2004 Super Bowl.
Disney Channel executives can only imagine how much higher the total audience for the movie would have been had not so many tweens danced, sang and ate popcorn with friends at the numerous High School Musical 2 viewing parties around the country. Still, the numbers are simply mind-boggling for Disney and for the cable industry.