Discovery's 'Earth' has a ball

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Discovery Channel had a big night with the debut of its 11-part miniseries "Planet Earth."

The first three installments debuted from 8-11 p.m. Sunday, averaging 5.7 million total viewers in the first hour, 6.1 million in the second and 5.4 million in the third, according to Nielsen Media Research. That means the three shows ranked as the Nos. 1, 2 and 4 basic cable programs of the week (March 19-25).

Discovery also estimated that an additional 500,000 homes watched "Planet Earth" in high definition nationally from 8-11 p.m. The network said the show's overall performance boosted its monthly and quarterly ratings, averaging 1.4 million total viewers in March (up 29% from March 2006) and 1.3 million in first-quarter 2007 (up 18% from first-quarter 2006).

The remaining installments of "Earth" air from 8-10 p.m. over the next four Sundays.

Meanwhile, ABC Family set records from 8-10 p.m. Sunday with its "premiere movie event" featuring "Bring It On: All or Nothing," starring Hayden Panetierre and Solange Knowles. The third installment in the cheerleader-centric franchise debuted as ABC Family's most-watched movie premiere of all time in total viewers (4.8 million), adults 18-34 (1.1 million), women 18-34 (865,000), viewers 12-34 (2.7 million), females 12-34 (2.1 million), teens 12-17 (1.5 million) and female teens (1.2 million).

Compared with the rest of basic cable, the movie ranked No. 1 in its time period in viewers 12-34, females 12-34, teens 12-17 and female teens and No. 2 in total viewers, adults 18-34 and adults 18-49 (1.9 million). It also was No. 5 overall in basic cable in total viewers for the week. "Bring It On's" performance helped ABC Family finish the week ending March 25 as basic cable's No. 1 network in primetime in viewers 12-34 (747,000), females 12-34 (575,000), teens 12-17 (389,000) and female teens (306,000).

At Food Network, "Chefography Week," which aired March 18-25, averaged 1.2 million total viewers (including 598,000 adults 25-54) for the six premiere runs of its brand-new specials, which detailed the lives of some of the network's most popular personalities, including Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, Nigella Lawson, Sandra Lee, Tyler Florence and Mario Batali. In terms of household ratings, Ray's special from 9-10 p.m. March 18 was the top performer, with a 1.5.
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