“The Game” is back on in a big way for BET.
The first original episode of the former CW comedy delivered a whopping 7.68 million viewers Tuesday, according to Nielsen, making it among the biggest ad-supported cable comedies on record. It also led all of TV during the 10 o’clock hour in adults under 50.
BET, which has been airing syndicated repeats of “The Game,” finalized a deal last spring to produce new episodes of the laffer. Series creator and exec producer Mara Brock Akil returned along with the principal cast members to continue the storylines.
The show averaged 1.8 million viewers in the 2008-09 season, its final one on CW, which has been out of the half-hour comedy biz since.
“The Game” was a spinoff of the long-running comedy “Girlfriends,” which debuted on UPN in 2000 before moving over to CW in 2006.
Looking at the numbers, “The Game” averaged a 3.6 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 from 10 to 11 p.m., easily beating the demo deliveries of competing firstrun broadcast dramas “The Good Wife” on CBS (2.3/6), “Parenthood” on NBC (2.2/6) and “Detroit 1-8-7” on ABC (1.0/3).
Among adults 18-34, “The Game” surged to a 4.6/13, making it the No. 1 primetime show on all of television for the night.
And the 7.7 million total viewers, by way of comparison, is a larger audience than the most recent original episodes of all of NBC’s Thursday comedies as well as ABC’s “Cougar Town” and Fox’s “The Cleveland Show.”
Only a few shows on kid-centric Disney Channel and Nickelodeon have drawn a larger overall audience among basic-cable comedies. In June 2007, Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne” hit 5.82 million viewers for its first original episode on TBS.
Following “The Game” on BET, the 11 p.m. premiere of comedy “Let’s Stay Together” averaged 4.4 million viewers.
Also of note in the ratings Tuesday, the first original “NCIS” episode of the year drew a series-record 21.93 million viewers for CBS — impressive for a show in its eighth season. It also stood as the night’s top show in adults 18-49 (4.5/12) and 25-54 (6.1/15), hitting its best scores in a year or more in both.
Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0” had a strong season premiere at 10 o’clock (2.1/5 in 18-49, 3.57m), leading into the debut seg of “Onion Sportsdome” at 10:30 p.m. (0.9/3, 1.52m).
At FX, the preem of boxing-themed drama “Lights Out” drew a modest 1.49 million viewers. The cabler’s last drama premiere, “Terriers,” opened to a similar 1.6 million in September but never got close to that number with any subsequent episode.