Spears’s Series Delivers With Fourth-Season Debut


So much for viewer backlash against Jamie Lynn Spears.

The controversial pregnant teen star’s Zoey 101 series on Nickelodeon drew almost 12 million viewers during its Jan. 27 two-episode, fourth-season premiere.

The 8 p.m. season premiere episode, in which Spears’s Zoey character was forced to make a decision between staying at her boarding school and flying overseas to live with her parents, drew 5.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. The subsequent installment attracted 6 million watchers on average.

The performance of both episodes nearly doubled the average of 2.94 million viewers for the series’ third season.

The two teen-targeted episodes ranked as the second and third most-watched shows on cable for the week of Jan. 21 through Jan. 27, topped only by Disney Channel’s tween-targeted telefilm Minutemen, which garnered 6.4 million viewers on Jan. 25.

Nickelodeon decided to go ahead with Zoey 101’s fourth season despite the 16-year old Spears’s controversial announcement in December that she was pregnant. Several media outlets called for Nickelodeon to cancel the show, saying that the pregnant Spears might be a negative influence to the show’s impressionable tween audience.  

But the publicity over Spears’ pregnancy helped the show's third season-conclusion, a one-hour movie, draw a series-high 7.27 million viewers.