Season premiere sets new high for Lifetime

Lifetime broke all of its series-episode records Sunday night when the second season of “Army Wives” kicked off with 4.5 million viewers.

Airing in the 10 o’clock hour, the second-season premiere of “Army Wives” beat the first-season kickoff last June by substantial double-digit percentages in total viewers and in all of the key adult-women demos, according to preliminary Nielsen figures.

The cable net built up to the Sunday premiere by scheduling an “Army Wives” marathon, with 10 hours of the first season (episodes four through 13) on Saturday (11 a.m.-9 p.m.) and releasing the DVD of the full first season last week.

All 13 first-season episodes are also available for free on the network’s website, with commercials, as are each of the new season’s hours, which show up online the day after their Lifetime premiere. Each episode is also available within 24 hours of its Lifetime premiere on iTunes, without commercials, for $1.99 apiece.

Lifetime hasn’t greenlit any new scripted original series yet to pair up with “Army Wives,” but Susanne Daniels, president of entertainment for Lifetime Networks, is high on the second season of the Tuesday night reality hour “How to Look Good Naked,” which begins next month. And, in November, Lifetime gets the hit reality skein “Project Runway” from Bravo, having won the series in a bidding war.

Lifetime got Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, the presumed Republican and Democratic nominees for president, respectively, to tape encomiums to “Army Wives” and to all military families.

The exec producers of “Army Wives” are Mark Gordon, Deborah Spera, Nick Thiel and Katherine Fugate. Fugate created the series for ABC Studios, which films it in Charleston, S.C.

Ratings weren’t available Monday, meanwhile, for the second airing of USA drama “In Plain Sight,” which drew 5.2 million viewers in the 10 o’clock hour the previous Sunday. But its lead-in, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” averaged a preliminary 4.5 million viewers in its return with firstrun episodes.

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