With an assist from ABC, whose new “Skating With the Stars” is clearly not as formidable as “Dancing With the Stars,” CBS comedy “Mike and Molly” hit series highs Monday. “Dancing,” meanwhile, had a very strong start to its two-night finale.

CBS led the broadcasters on the night among adults 18-49 and 25-54, while ABC cruised among total viewers.

According to preliminary estimates from Nielsen, “Dancing With the Stars” opened the night with a projected 4.9 rating/13 share in adults 18-49 and 24.1 million viewers overall from 8 to 9:13 p.m., up vs. last fall’s final performance episode and delivering the largest overall audience for any entertainment series this fall. It was followed by “Skating With the Stars” (projected 2.3/6 in 18-49, 8.9 million viewers overall), which declined throughout and finished with about 6 million viewers in its final half-hour.

CBS remains potent at 8 p.m. with “How I Met Your Mother” (3.5/10 in 18-49, 9.0 million viewers overall), which moved ahead of Fox’s “House” in 18-49. The net then fell off some at 8:30 p.m. with “Rules of Engagement” (2.9/8 in 18-49, 8.1 million viewers overall) before surging from 9 to 10 p.m. with “Two and a Half Men” (4.5/12 in 18-49, 14.3 million viewers overall) and rookie “Mike and Molly” (4.0/10 in 18-49, 13.0 million viewers overall); “Molly,” facing “Skating” and not “Dancing,” achieved series highs. And benefiting by a weaker ABC at 10 (with “Skating” in for “Castle”), first-year drama “Hawaii Five-0” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 12.1 million viewers overall) posted its best numbers since early October.

At Fox, “House” was down 15% week to week (3.4/9 in 18-49, 9.2 million viewers overall) but remained second among the broadcasters in most categories at 8 o’clock, and “Lie to Me” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 5.7 million viewers overall) was down just a tick week to week and remained the top drama in the hour.

NBC was in season-low territory with both “Chuck” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 4.8 million viewers overall) and “The Event” (1.7/4 in 18-49, 5.2 million viewers overall), but “Chase” edged up some (1.4/4 in 18-49, 5.4 million viewers overall), benefiting from less drama competition in the 10 o’clock hour.

CW aired repeats of “90210” (0.3/1 in 18-49, 0.9 million viewers overall) and “Gossip Girl” (0.3/1 in 18-49, 0.8 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 3.5/10; ABC, 3.4/9; Fox, 2.6/7; NBC and Univision, 1.6/4; CW, 0.3/1.

In total viewers: ABC, 15.1 million; CBS, 11.4 million; Fox, 7.5 million; NBC, 5.1 million; Univision, 3.8 million; CW, 0.9 million.