TV adaptation of 1989 film draws 6.5 million viewers

Lifetime scored big Sunday with its “Steel Magnolias” update, which drew the largest audience for a single-part cable movie in five years.

Nielsen estimates that “Steel,” starring and exec produced by Queen Latifah, averaged 6.5 million viewers for its premiere telecast from 9 to 11 p.m., becoming the net’s most popular telepic since “Life is Not a Fairy Tale: The Fantasia Barrino Story” in 2006. In adults 18-49, its 3 million viewers (equating to roughly a 2.4 national rating) outperformed the 9-11 p.m. block of drama series originals on both ABC and CBS.

“Steel’s” 3.2 million adults 25-54 is the most for a Lifetime movie in the 17 years since “Almost Golden: The Jessica Savitch Story” in 1995, and the 2.5 million women 25-54 is the largest crowd ever for a Lifetime pic.

Among all ad-supported cable, no single-part original cable movie has drawn a larger audience than “Steel Magnolias” since “Holiday in Handcuffs” on ABC Family in 2007.

The Sony Pictures Television-produced film, an adaptation of the iconic play and 1989 film, also starred Phylicia Rashad, Adepero Oduye, Condola Rashas with Jill Scott and Alfre Woodard. Lifetime rebroadcast the pic on Monday night.

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