Same-Old Situation: 'Jersey Shore' s Return Delivers Big For MTV

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The stomping grounds may have changed from the Garden State to Italy, but the Jersey Shore crew still delivered big with the Nielsens.

MTV averaged 8.8 million viewers for the premiere of Jersey Shore's fourth season on Thursday night, a 4% gain from the 8.45 million who tuned in the start of its third season on Jan. 6, according to Nielsen live + same-day data. The Jersey Shore season-four premiere on Aug. 4 now stands as MTV's third-most-watched series telecast ever: the Jan. 20 episode averaged 8.87 million, while the Jan. 27 installment scored with 8.83 million.

Among MTV's broad target audience of persons 12 to 34, the fourth-season debut on Aug. 4 averaged an 8.2 rating and 6.5 million of those viewers -- essentially even with its third-season debut, which garnered an 8.3 rating and 6.5 million watchers, according to network offficials.

The encore at 11 p.m. averaged another 3.91 million viewers.