TNT’s ‘Rizzoli’ sets cable launch record

Debut draws most viewers ever for ad-supported premiere

If there’s a law in the TV universe, it’s that female crimesolvers on TNT will draw significant audiences. And “Rizzoli and Isles” and “The Closer” are enforcing it.

The series premiere of “Rizzoli and Isles” on Monday on TNT set an all-time cable record for an ad-supported series launch, drawing 7.6 million viewers. “Rizzoli” fed off a lead-in provided by “The Closer,” whose audience for Monday’s sixth-season premiere was 7.7 million. The pair rank No. 1 and No. 2 among ad-supported cable series broadcasts in 2010.

“One of the great things about ‘Rizzoli and Isles’ is it does feel like it’s a really great fit with ‘The Closer,’ ” TNT/TBS/TCM exec veep and programming head Michael Wright told Daily Variety. “I think we really embraced that we have this amazing, one-of-a-kind show in ‘The Closer’ — let’s make an effort to develop a show that really respects that audience and delivers something to them that’s complementary.”

Starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander as a Boston detective and medical examiner, “Rizzoli” actually improved on “The Closer’s” audience numbers among adults 18-49 and 25-54.

“Rizzoli” had a premiere audience surpassed only by “Raising the Bar,” whose premiere aired commercial-free in September 2008, when it drew 7.7 million. “Bar” provides something of a cautionary tale as its audience soon declined, and it was cancelled after two seasons late in 2009.

On the other hand, the continued rise of “The Closer” has to be nothing less than inspiring for TNT execs. The Kyra Sedgwick starrer boosted its viewership 7% compared to its fifth-season premiere 13 months ago.

“I could not be happier about the number for ‘Rizzoli and Isles,'” Wright said, “but I would hate for the performance of ‘The Closer’ to be ignored. … They have such high standards, and I’m not blowing smoke — I think that’s why the number continues to stay strong. (The audience) knows it’s not going to be let down.”

The only primetime show to draw more than 7.7 million viewers on broadcast TV Monday was ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” with 9.5 million. For comparison, the “Rizzoli” premiere roughly matched a CBS rerun of “CSI: Miami” among viewers 18-49 (each with a 5 share) but drew approximately 1 million more sets of eyes overall.

Janet Tamaro and Bill Haber (Ostar Prods.) exec produce “Rizzoli” via Warner Horizon TV. The skein co-stars Lorraine Bracco, Lee Thompson Young, Bruce McGill and Jordan Bridges. James Duff exec produces “The Closer” with Greer Shephard, Michael M. Robin, Rick Wallace and Sedgwick.

ESPN also had happy news to report on the cable side, with its broadcast of baseball’s 2010 “Home Run Derby” averaging 6.4 million viewers Monday (2.6 rating/8 share in 18-49).

And Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey” opened its season to 3.3 million viewers — the largest aud for an episode of the franchise that wasn’t a finale.

(Rick Kissell contributed to this report.)

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Shane Gillis SNL Controversy

    Shane Gillis Makes First Stand-Up Appearance Since 'SNL' Firing

    Comedian Shane Gillis made his first public appearance Wednesday night since he was hired by “Saturday Night Live,” then fired from the show days later amid controversy over his use of racist slurs. Appearing on stage at comedy club the Stand in New York City, Gillis performed an 11-minute set that pulled no punches when [...]

  • AMERICAN HORROR STORY: 1984 -- Pictured:

    'American Horror Story' Recap: Welcome to 'Camp Redwood'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the season premiere of “American Horror Story: 1984” entitled “Camp Redwood.” Welcome back to “American Horror Story,” which in its ninth season travels back in time to the 1970s and 1980s to play in the slasher genre. Only one episode into the season, it already [...]

  • Connie Britton BlogHer Summit

    Connie Britton on ‘Friday Night Lights’ Remake: ‘You Need to Let it Go’

    Connie Britton opened up at a fireside chat Wednesday at the #BlogHer19 Creators Summit in Brooklyn by talking about one of her most beloved roles — Tami Taylor in the fan favorite series “Friday Night Lights.” When asked if a remake of the sports cult film and Emmy-winning TV show is in the works she [...]

  • Bob IgerSimon Weisenthal Gala honoring Bob

    Bob Iger Would Have Combined Disney With Apple if Steve Jobs Were Still Alive

    Disney and Apple are both launching their own streaming services come November, but Disney CEO Bob Iger says the two companies weren’t always on competing paths. In an excerpt from his autobiography published Wednesday in “Vanity Fair,” Iger revealed that Disney and Apple likely would have merged if Steve Jobs hadn’t died in 2011. “I [...]

  • The Mentalist

    #NotWorthLess: 'I Was Great and Deserve to Be Paid the Same'

    Women writers, producers and assistants across Twitter turned the hashtag #NotWorthLess into a trend Wednesday, shining a light on issues of pay inequality in the entertainment business. Sparked by screenwriter Adele Lim’s recent decision to walk away from the “Crazy Rich Asians” sequel in protest of being paid less than her male co-writer, dozens of [...]

  • does self-described "family brands" business Hasbro

    With Hasbro Acquisition, Is eOne Planning to Offload Family-Unfriendly Properties?

    Hasbro’s $4 billion acquisition of eOne in August instantly put the Canadian toy giant in the league of major entertainment and content companies thanks to eOne’s arsenal of IP assets in music, television and film. But does the self-described “family brands” business that’s home to The Game of Life and My Little Pony align with [...]

  • Mariah Carey Tracee Ellis Ross

    Mariah Carey, Tracee Ellis Ross Celebrate Biracial Heritage at “Mixed-ish” Premiere

    Mariah Carey and Tracee Ellis Ross embraced their “ish” at Tuesday night’s series premiere event for ABC’s “Mixed-ish” by reflecting on how their biracial identity makes working on the new show even more personal. “I’m just so thankful that this show exists,” Carey told the assembled crowd during a Q&A with series creator Kenya Barris. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content