'Dancing' kicks up on 'Bachelor' assist


The eighth edition of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" had the most-watched premiere in the show's history, dramatically reversing a two-year slide.

Monday's kickoff was seen by 22.8 million viewers and earned a 5.9 rating/15 share in adults 18-49. The demo was up 9% from the show's fall premiere and up 5% from its spring 2008 bow, the first time a "Dancing" premiere has climbed in the ratings since 2007.

The show's producers had to scramble after celebrities Nancy O'Dell and Jewel dropped out last week. But the eleventh-hour casting of scorned "Bachelor" contestant Melissa Rycroft proved a wise move that not only capitalized on the dating competition's success this season but also extended ABC's Monday reality-show "story" from one series to another.

"Dancing" led in to the series premiere of "Castle" (10.8 million, 3.0/8). It placed second during its hour and outperformed "Boston Legal's" average in the time period last year but rated below the year-ago debut of "The Bachelor: London Calling" in the spot. (partialdiff)