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The CW's premieres mixed; 'MasterChef' rises

hellcatsUPDATED: The first premiere ratings of the fall broadcast season are in: The CW's new cheerleading drama "Hellcats" and the 15th cycle of "America's Next Top Model" kicked off an evening of mixed returns for the network.

"Hellcats" drew 3 million viewers and a 1.2  rating among adults 18-49. In The CW's key demo, 18-34, the series pulled a 1.4.

These are far from "Vampire Diaries" numbers, but double last year's short-lived "The Beautiful Life" in the time period. Compared to the more heavily hyped "Melrose Place" premiere last fall, the show is down 8% in the demo, though improved among viewers.

"Hellcats" was preceded by debut of "America's Next Top Model" (2.8 million, 1.3), which had its usual drop, down 13%.

With The CW only rolling out two new dramas this fall, one hoped for bigger pop. Still, "Hellcats" is the first premiere ever to follow "Top Model" and improve compared to the reality show among adults 18-34. The numbers also built across the hour, which generally means viewers were enjoying it. And it represents the biggest number in this slot from a show aside from "Top Model" in three years. You also have to factor in some leeway since this is the first debut of the season, and on a network that's been almost entirely in repeats all summer. Once audience levels rise on the network, we could see the show gather some added momentum.

Put simply: "Hellcats" did not pull good numbers for a new fall series premiere, but there's plenty of mitigating factors why these are not bad numbers for The CW. Preview clip for "Hellcats" second episode below.

"Hellcats" reviews were mixed. THR and LA Times liked it. WashPost and USA Today didn't.

Meanwhile, Fox won the night with "MasterChef" (5.8 million, 2.5) and there's no regrets at Fox about renewing the reality show for another season -- ratings shot up a whopping 25% last night, increasing even from its early morning preliminary rating.

NBC's "Minute to Win It" (6.5 million, 1.8) was flat, "America's Got Talent" (12.1 million, 2.8) was up 12%.

CBS' "Big Brother" (7.8 million, 2.7) dipped 7%.