Millions view farewell to ‘Catch’ Capt. Phil

'Covert Affairs' debut sets 2010 mark in 18-49

USA’s “Covert Affairs” delivered 2010’s top 18-49 audience for a series premiere on ad-supported cable Tuesday, but overall it was no match for the emotional farewell to Capt. Phil Harris on Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch.”

The final regular appearance on “Deadliest Catch” of Harris, who died in February days after suffering a stroke, drew 8.5 million viewers at 9 p.m., the biggest audience on cable Tuesday and the largest for Discovery since 2000 (third all-time behind “Raising the Mammoth” and “Walking With Dinosaurs”). “Deadliest Catch” has ranked first in the 25-54 demo for 14 consecutive weeks among non-sports programs on cable.

A 10 p.m., a Capt. Phil tribute episode on sister series “After the Catch” was seen by 6.8 million and ranked second on cable Tuesday and fifth all-time for Discovery.

While they are dissimilar series, the Capt. Phil programming might have impacted the initial numbers for “Covert Affairs,” starring Piper Perabo, and even moreso the second-season premiere of “White Collar,” which nonetheless still performed ably for USA.

The 2.1 million viewers in 18-49 for “Covert,” airing at 10 p.m., narrowly topped Monday’s debut of TNT’s “Rizzoli and Isles,” which still ranks No. 1 for the year in overall viewers (7.6 million) for series debuts on basic cable. “Covert” had 4.9 million viewers overall.

“Covert” improved 28% in 18-49 and 14% in overall viewers over its 9 p.m. lead-in, “White Collar,” which dropped 20% from its premiere a year ago but was up 12% in overall viewers (4.3 million) compared with its winter average.

Discovery plans to air a seg of “Deadliest Catch” next Tuesday that shows other captains learning the news about Capt. Phil, followed by a remembrance special.

Fox’s coverage of baseball’s All-Star Game (3.8/12 in 18-49, 12.12 million viewers overall) won the night but was down 19% in the demo year to year and delivered one of the event’s smallest auds on record.

And the season finale of MTV’s “The Hills” drew 2.95 million viewers, standing as TV’s top show of the night in women 18-34 (4.2/13).

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