ABC’s ‘Dancing’ shines in ratings

'Castle' bows with lukewarm launch

ABC continues to go off-script to bag big numbers on Monday nights.

One week after the rejuvenated “The Bachelor” franchise wrapped its highest-rated season in years, the net’s “Dancing With the Stars” — with an assist from “The Bachelor” — opened surprisingly well.

Now in its eighth edition and lacking any real big-name stars this time around, “Dancing” nonetheless bowed with its second best premiere demo rating to date (6.1 rating/15 share in 18-49) while drawing its largest overall aud for a premiere (22.83 million), according to Nielsen.

Though Fox’s “American Idol” draws stronger demo ratings than “Dancing,” the hoofing hit’s overall premiere aud wasn’t too far behind what “Idol” averaged last week.

And excluding the Oscars, it’s the Alphabet’s most-watched telecast in 16 months.

Interest in “Dancing” may have been heightened due to late cast changes, as auds were curious to see who would replace Jewel and Nancy O’Dell, both of whom were sidelined with dancing-prep injuries. In a bit of casting genius, “Dancing” was able to recruit recently jilted “Bachelor” contestant Melissa Rycroft as a substitute.

Monday’s 122-minute “Dancing” preem (8-10:02 p.m.) peaked in the 9:30 half-hour with a 6.8/16 in 18-49 and 24.11 million viewers overall, winning the timeslot by 7 shares in the demo.

“Dancing With the Stars” was easily the night’s top-rated program, rising 15% in 18-49 from the show’s launch last fall edition and 9% above its launch at this time a year ago. The previous high in total viewers for a season preem came two years ago in season 4 (21.8 million).

Closing out the night for ABC was the premiere of light-hearted crime drama “Castle” (3.0/8 in 18-49, 10.76m), which retained a little less than half of its “Dancing With the Stars” lead-in and placed second in its hour to an above-average delivery for CBS vet “CSI: Miami” (4.3/11, 14.22m).

“Castle,” which opened stronger than “Boston Legal” following “Dancing With the Stars” earlier this season, lost a chunk of the audience that initially tuned in Monday, but held steady over its final 45 minutes (averaging a 2.8 rating over that stretch). It held off NBC’s “Medium” (2.5/6 in 18-49, 7.13m).

“Dancing With the Stars” — as well as the start of daylight-saving time — took its toll on some of the competish from 8 to 10 p.m., with NBC’s “Chuck” (2.1/6, 5.80m) and “Heroes” (3.2/8, 6.70m) both hovering around firstrun lows.

Fox’s “House” (4.8/13, 12.38m) hit a season low, and the CBS comedy block, led by “Two and a Half Men” (4.8/12, 13.44m), was below average as well.

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