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ABC Family’s ‘Secret’ debuts strong

Cable series tops CW's 'Gossip Girl' Monday

In what’s shaping up to be a busy month for scripted cable premieres, the new cycle of ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” got off to an impressive start Monday.

Last summer’s hottest rookie entry, “Secret Life” opened the back-half of its first season as the day’s top cable program in key categories, beating CW’s firstrun “Gossip Girl” head-to-head.

The early part of the week also saw good starts for returning shows on the broadcast nets — the record-setting kickoff to the new season of NBC’s “Biggest Loser” and the first ABC airings of laffer “Scrubs.”

The Alphabet also glowed Monday with the debut of “True Beauty,” airing behind “The Bachelor,” but didn’t do as well on Tuesday with “Homeland Security USA.” NBC, meanwhile, is doing OK in the early going with “Superstars of Dance.”

For ABC Family, “Secret Life of the American Teenager” (1.4 rating/4 share in adults 18-49, 4.38 million viewers overall) continues to put up gaudy numbers even in the face of higher-profile broadcast competish than it faced on Tuesdays last summer. It returned as Monday’s No. 1 cable program among persons 12-34 and the No. 1 scripted cable show in adults 18-49, adults 18-34 and total viewers. It was also far and away television’s top draw for the day among female teens (11.6/32).

Head-to-head against CW’s “Gossip Girl” (1.3/3 in 18-49, 2.96m), “Secret Life” won in women 18-34 (2.8/8 vs. 2.6/7), persons 12-34 (3.0/8 vs. 1.8/5) and total viewers (4.4 million vs. 3.0 million). The shows tied in adults 18-34 (1.8/5).

The competish gets a bit tougher in weeks ahead for “Secret Life” as CBS comedies and Fox drama “House” return to firstrun.

Also Monday, ABC’s new season of “The Bachelor” (3.1/8 in 18-49, 8.74m) was nearly in line with its 2008 bow, which aired behind “Dancing With the Stars.” Airing from 8 to 10 p.m., it topped NBC’s two-hour time-period premiere of “Superstars of Dance” (2.7/7, 9.67m) in key demos, though the latter led in total viewers.

“Dance,” which had fared a bit better with a special preview seg on Sundays, will air throughout January before “Chuck” returns next month.

And at 10 o’clock, Tyra Banks-Ashton Kutcher creation “True Beauty” (3.2/8 in 18-49, 7.61m) was the top nonsports choice in 18-49 and younger demos, easily besting NBC’s “Momma’s Boys” (2.0/5, 5.32m). “Beauty,” which held up nicely in its second half-hour, outperformed every episode of “Boston Legal” to air in the hour this season for ABC.

Fox was the easy winner Monday with its college football Fiesta Bowl nail-biter between Texas and Ohio State (6.0/16 in 18-49, 17.06m).

On Tuesday, the seventh-season debut of “The Biggest Loser” (4.5/11 in 18-49, 11.92m) notched its best scores to date for an opener, but must now brace for the return of Fox’s “American Idol” next week.

Also for NBC, “Law & Order: SVU” (3.9/10 in 18-49, 10.82m) locked up its best score of the season.

At ABC, new unscripted series “Homeland Security USA” averaged a 2.3/6 in 18-49 and 7.77 million viewers overall — a third-place finish but still better than what the net was averaging at the outset of fall with “Opportunity Knocks.” It led into the Alphabet debut of former NBC comedy “Scrubs,” which delivered a 3.1/7 in 18-49 and 6.74 million viewers at 9 o’clock and similar scores with a second original episode at 9:30 (3.2/8, 6.61m).

“Scrubs” repped a big improvement for ABC vs. what it was doing with “According to Jim” and “Carpoolers” on the night a year ago, and it was up about 20% over its final Peacock airing last May.

And at 10 o’clock, ABC improved its fortunes with the return of newsmag “Primetime: What Would You Do?” (2.7/7 in 18-49, 7.02m), which is taking over in the slot for “Eli Stone.”

CBS remained potent with “NCIS” (3.8/10 in 18-49, 19.10m) and rookie “The Mentalist” (4.0/10 in 18-49, 19.62m), which were on par with their recent demo scores. “Mentalist” hit a high in total viewers for a third straight firstrun telecast.

Fox didn’t do much with repeats of “House” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 5.51m) and “Fringe” (1.4/3, 3.64m), while CW was in line with its recent scores for the returning “90210” (1.4/4, 2.80m) and “Privileged” (0.8/2, 1.67m).

Of note in cable, FX’s “Nip/Tuck” had a strong season preem (1.8/5 in 18-49, 3.12m), contributing to lower numbers for competing TNT drama “Leverage” (0.9/2, 2.85m).

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