ABC's 'Dancing With the Stars' Premiere Down 20%

Most scripted programs on Monday reached lows or were flat with last week, including NBC's struggling drama "The Event."
Adam Larkey/ABC

UPDATED: ABC’s Dancing With the Stars towered over its competition, drawing 22.7 million viewers for its two-hour premiere.

The reality favorite launched its 12th season Monday night, featuring celebrities like Ralph Macchio, Kirstie Alley and Kendra Wilkinson, and while it outdrew its nearest competitor by 13 million viewers, the premiere was down 20 percent from last season’s debut in the key 18-49 demographic (5.3). This is the series’ lowest spring premiere in total viewers since March 2008 (21.2 million). Still, Dancing was the most-watched and the highest-rated program on Monday night.

A rich Dancing lead-in boosted a soap opera-inspired episode of Castle (12 million, 3.1) at 10 p.m., easily pushing ABC for the nightly win. (Castle was the top program in its time slot, beating CBS’ Hawaii Five-0.)

Things weren’t as bright on CBS, which saw How I Met Your Mother (8 million, 3.0) reaching a season low and freshman comedy Mike & Molly (9.7 million, 3.0) down to a series low. Midseason sitcom Mad Love (6.5 million, 2.4), however, was up 10 percent. Hawaii Five-0 (10 million, 2.9) saw a 4 percent increase at 10 p.m. The Tiffany network placed second, averaging 8.8 million viewers and a 2.8 demo rating.

On Fox, House (9.5 million, 3.4) was the top-rated scripted program for the night — with Castle at No. 2 — but was down 3 percent from last week in the demo. The Chicago Code (6.2 million, 1.8) at 9 p.m. was flat. Fox placed third in total viewers (7.8 million) and the demo (2.6).

NBC’s three-hour block was hit the hardest, with all three dramas hitting or tying series lows. Chuck (4.2 million, 1.5), down 6 percent, and freshman legal drama Harry’s Law (8.4 million, 1.6), down 11 percent, reaching new series lows. Struggling drama The Event (4.1 million, 1.2) was flat with last week, tying a low. The network placed fourth on the night (5.5 million, 1.4), just ahead of The CW, which aired repeats of 90210 and Gossip Girl.