‘Royal’ premiere rules Thursday

USA drama averages 5.6 million viewers

USA, home to more scripted successes than any other cable network, is off to a promising start with its latest drama entry, “Royal Pains.”

In its bow Thursday at 10 p.m., “Royal Pains” averaged 5.6 million viewers, including 2.3 million adults 18-49 — coming in higher than the preems of the hit USA originals “In Plain Sight” and “Burn Notice.”

“Royal Pains,” which stars Mark Feuerstein as a “concierge doctor” to rich residents of the Hamptons, retained more than 90% of its lead-in from “Burn Notice” on Thursday (6.0 million viewers overall, 2.5 million adults 18-49). In its timeslot, it beat out NBC’s premiere of drama “The Listener” (5.3 million viewers overall, roughly 1.8 million adults 18-49).

“Burn Notice,” cable’s No. 1 scripted skein in key demos, was up 7% in 18-49 and 11% in total viewers vs. its second-season preem in July 2008.

The perfs by the USA dramas are all the more impressive since they came opposite Game 1 of the NBA Finals on ABC.

Final ratings for the hoops action, meanwhile, were unavailable due to Nielsen processing delays Friday.

But based on affiliate-based prelims, it’s expected that Thursday’s opener — an easy victory for the Los Angeles Lakers over the Orlando Magic — won’t quite approach the 2008 Game 1 between the Lakers and Boston Celtics (5.5 rating/16 share in adults 18-49, 13.44 million viewers overall) but should come in well above the 2007 Game 1 between Cleveland and San Antonio (3.6/11, 8.87m).

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