‘Falling Skies’ opens strong for TNT

Alien invasion series draws 5.9 million viewers

Cable’s busy season has begun. Sunday night was chock-a-block with preems and finales as the summer sesh kicks into high gear.

With broadcasters in summer light mode, top cablers are betting big this year on seasonal originals.

TNT got its heavily promoted sci-fi thriller “Falling Skies” off to a good start with a turnout of 5.9 million viewers, making it cable’s top new series bow of the year to date.

Lifetime had mixed results from the third seasonseason bow of “Drop Dead Diva.”

HBO was expected to yield a solid number from the first season closer of “Game of Thrones” (ratings won’t be available until today). AMC generated a tidal wave of online and Twitter chatter with the frosh season finale of “The Killing.”

The two-hour opener for “Falling Skies,” a thriller about an alien invasion of Earth toplined by Noah Wyle, brought in a healthy 2.6 million viewers in the 18-49 demo (a 2.0 rating) and 3.2 million in adults 25-54. The long-gestating series hails from DreamWorks TV and Steven Spielberg, who exec produces along with Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Graham Yost and Robert Rodat.

“The enormous success of ‘Falling Skies’ demonstrates what can happen when you partner with the best people in the business and give them what they need to do their very best work,” said Michael Wright, exec veep of programming for TNT, TBS and TCM.

“Falling Skies” beat the mark set by last year’s top cable series bow, AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” which opened to 5.2 million viewers.

Lifetime’s “Diva” drew 2.9 million viewers, down slightly from its season two debut but better in several demos, including adults 18-49 and 25-54 — the latter up 7%. The femme-centric cabler kicked off its summer sesh June 12 with the Ally Walker detective drama “The Protector,” which did so-so business (1.9 million viewers) behind the fifth season finale of “Army Wives.”

HBO has high hopes for the finale of “Game of Thrones” which has been averaging 2.5 million viewers for its initial telecasts and an impressive 8.3 million for weeklong averages incorporating multiple reruns, VOD and DVR usage.

Sunday’s series programming had some competish from ESPN’s interleague baseball game between the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs that clearly grabbed a chunk of male viewers, but final aud totals weren’t available.

Among the anticipated new and returning summer preems during the next few weeks are HBO’s “True Blood” (June 26); Showtime’s “Weeds” and “The Big C” (June 27); USA Network’s “Necessary Roughness” and “Royal Pains” (June 29); Starz’s “Torchwood: Miracle Day” (July 8); TNT’s “Rizzoli & Isles” (July 11); FX’s “Rescue Me” (July 13); DirecTV’s “Damages” (July 13); and AMC’s “Breaking Bad” (July 17).

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