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‘White Collar’ off to good start for USA

Cable series nabs 5.4 million viewers in debut

USA is off to a strong start with its latest lighthearted drama, “White Collar,” whose bow outdrew some broadcast programs Friday.

The well-reviewed “White Collar,” starring Matthew Bomer as a con man who takes a job as an FBI consultant to avoid going back to jail, averaged a 1.4 rating/5 share in adults 18-49 and 5.4 million viewers overall in its expanded premiere (10-11:15 p.m.), which was presented with limited commercial interruptions.

In broad categories, “Collar” retained virtually all of its lead-in from “Monk” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 5.42m), tying with NBC’s “The Jay Leno Show” in 18-49. And in men 18-49 and 25-54, it built on “Monk” to stand as television’s top-rated program in the 10 p.m. hour.

And compared with some broadcast offerings earlier in the evening, it was higher rated than ABC’s “Wife Swap” and “Ugly Betty,” Fox’s “Brothers,” “Til Death” and “Dollhouse” and CW’s “Smallville.”

Among USA bows, “White Collar” drew more viewers than “Burn Notice” in 2007 or “In Plain Sight” in 2008 but was down a bit vs. last summer’s “Royal Pains.” This was the best demo perf in the time period for USA since the combo of “Psych” and “House” in February 2008, while its overall audience is the best since the premiere of “Psych” in July 2006.

In other ratings news, Sunday night was a big one for sports — especially in New York — with both NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and Fox’s coverage of the deciding game in baseball’s American League Championship Series dominating the action. Football appears to have won among young adults, while baseball drew a larger overall crowd.

According to preliminary Nielsens, the “SNF” matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants averaged a 5.2 rating/13 share in adults 18-49 and 13.3 million viewers overall on NBC’s affiliates from 8:30 to 11 p.m., while the baseball contest between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels delivered a 4.8/12 in 18-49 and 14 million viewers overall on Fox’s affiliates from 8 to 11. Both games can expect to grow by roughly 10% in the nationals that are issued today by Nielsen.

It wasn’t close in New York, where the Yankees averaged a 25.9 household rating/38 share on Fox from 8 to 11 p.m., while the Giants earned a 9.1/13 on NBC from 8:30 to 11. The baseball game also delivered a very strong 21.2/30 in Philadelphia, whose Phillies will meet the Yankees in the World Series beginning Wednesday.

The Fall Classic figures to be a ratings winner for Fox, as it pits Major League Baseball’s biggest draw (the Yankees) against the defending champs in a matchup featuring many of the sport’s biggest names.

It also helps that the two markets (New York at 6.5% and Philadelphia at 2.6%) combine to account for 9.1% of all U.S. households.

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