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Pretty Little Liars, the crown jewel in ABC Family’s catalog of tweet-inducing scripted series, returned Tuesday to 2.97 million viewers — rising from last year’s opener and giving the four-seasons-old series its best summer debut among younger adults and women.
The flagship’s return means summer is in full swing for the cable network, which has also brought back Switched at Birth and launched freshman dramas The Fosters and Twisted. Conspicuously absent from the schedule, however, is Bunheads. Amy Sherman-Palladino‘s critically adored dramedy wrapped its modest freshman season in February, and while word of a renewal or cancelation would normally have come months ago, ABC Family is holding off on a decision to see how its new summer series pan out. (The network is doing the same with The Lying Game, though the sophomore’s future has been subject to less public speculation.)
Bunheads opened in June 2012 to 1.64 million viewers, considered a solid scripted debut for the network. It brought in equally strong returns with women 18-49 and adults 18-49, growing significantly in its second week — but ratings soon dipped. By season’s end, the series was averaging 1.25 million viewers in Live+Same Day. DVR increases brought the series up to 1.88 million viewers, but in the second half of its run it dropped off more than most of its network neighbors.
Switched at Birth also returned this week. And whereas its season-one averages were relatively in line with Bunheads, the season-2.5 premiere did see an uptick, with the baby-swapping drama averaging 1.66 million viewers and more robust showings in the key demos.
The two biggest determiners for Bunheads will be this summer’s new entries: Twisted and The Fosters. Twisted, which had a harder-to-gauge premiere with the rebroadcast of its winter-sampled pilot, opened to 1.61 million viewers after a strong Pretty Little Liars lead-in. As for The Fosters, the series saw double-digit growth in its second outing, with 1.7 million viewers
Through all of this, a second season of Bunheads (like a third for The Lying Game) is still on the table. The series was recently selected to receive some of the state of California’s $100 million in annual tax credits for local filming should it come to fruition. But ABC Family is clearly angling for its next Pretty Little Liars. And if this summer’s offerings continue to track north of the bubble ballet drama, the network seems likely to stay the current course.
Here’s a complete rundown of the recent ABC Family premieres as well as Bunheads‘ freshman averages:
Pretty Little Liars: Season-Four Premiere
2.97 million viewers; 1.08 million women 18-34, 1.62 million adults 18-49
Switched at Birth: Season-2.5 Premiere
1.66 million viewers; 393,000 women 18-34; 855,000 adults 18-49.
Twisted: Series Premiere
1.61 million viewers; 435,000 women 18-34; 662,000 adults 18-49
The Fosters: Second Episode
1.7 million viewers; 379,000 women 18-34; 781,000 adults 18-49.
Bunheads: Season One Averages
1.25 million viewers (Live+Same Day); 301,000 women 18-34; 635,000 adults 18-49
1.88 million viewers (Live+Seven Day); 469,000 women 18-34; 993,000 adults 18-49
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