'Santa,' 'Polar' top cable

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ABC Family received good tidings Sunday with the premiere of the original movie "Santa Baby."

The Jenny McCarthy starrer pulled in 4.7 million total viewers, making it the most-watched basic cable telecast of the day. "Santa Baby," which aired from 8-10 p.m., stands as the most-watched original movie developed under the ABC Family banner. Compared with the time period a year ago, "Santa Baby" was up 81% in total viewers.

"Santa" also ranked as the No. 2 movie on all basic cable for the week ending Dec. 10, second only to an encore showing of theatrical "The Polar Express" (5.1 million), also on ABC Family. That movie, which aired 7-9:30 p.m. Saturday, now stands as the network's most-watched non-original telecast of all time.

Sci Fi Channel's "The Lost Room" got off to a modest start Monday night. The six-hour miniseries, starring Peter Krause and Julianna Margulies, averaged 2.1 million total viewers in its 9-11 p.m. premiere.

That figure represents a significant dropoff from the performance of two other Sci Fi minis that also debuted during the month of December: "The Triangle," which drew 4.3 million in its premiere Dec. 5, 2005, and "Earthsea," which averaged 3.7 million in its Dec. 13, 2004, debut.

In other cable ratings news, A&E Network's original movie "Wedding Wars" had an underwhelming debut Monday. The movie, starring John Stamos, Eric Dane and James Brolin, averaged 986,000 viewers in its 9-11 p.m. slot.

Meanwhile, HBO's "The Wire" closed its fourth season Sunday, notching its biggest audience for the past two seasons. An influx of 1.9 million viewers was enough to bring the drama's season average higher than the previous season, to 1.6 million.

But "Wire's" premiere numbers only tell part of the story. HBO made the unprecedented move this season of making episodes of "Wire" available on its HBO On Demand platform for six days before each premiere data. In its first week, the six-day preview attracted 188,000; that haul rose steadily over the course of the season, peaking at the finale with 650,000.

Elsewhere in cable, Hallmark Channel's original holiday movie "What I Did for Love" averaged 3.1 million viewers in its premiere from 9-11 p.m. Saturday. The program was the network's fourth-highest-rated telecast ever.

Cartoon Network's first-ever original live-action/animated movie, "Re-Animated," debuted at 8-10 p.m. Friday, with 2.2 million total viewers tuning in. Among kids 6-11, the movie drew 1.2 million viewers, an increase of 45% over the same time period last year. Meanwhile, 1.5 million kids 2-11 tuned in, an increase of 30% over the time slot in 2005.

Andrew Wallenstein contributed to this report.
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