21.8 mil viewers in step with ABC's 'Dancing'


ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" returned to the airwaves Monday with the spring still in its step.

The premiere of its fourth cycle averaged 21.8 million and a 6.4 rating/16 share in the 18-49 demographic from 8-10 p.m., leading ABC to wins in viewers and the demo, according to Nielsen Media Research. The premiere exceeded the show's third-cycle debut, which in September grabbed more than 20 million and a 5.7/15 in 18-49.

The episode was not only "Dancing's" highest-rated cycle opener, but it also collected the biggest audience with entertainment programming that ABC has delivered in 15 years on a Monday, which has been a mixed bag for the network since losing "Monday Night Football."

"Dancing" took the air out of the competition at 9 p.m., in particular, driving CBS' "Two and a Half Men" and "Rules of Engagement" to season lows. NBC's "Deal or No Deal" also was running below par, but Fox's "24" held up OK (4.6/11).

"Dancing" helped lift ABC's 10 p.m. drama "What About Brian" to a robust 2.5/7.

For the night, ABC averaged 16.9 million viewers and a 5.2/13 in 18-49, followed by CBS (11.7 million, 4.0/10), NBC (11.3 million, 3.6/9), Fox (10.1 million, 4.1/10) and the CW (2.3 million, 1.0/3).