A&E’s ‘Scared Straight’ has record debut

Reality series draws 3.7 million viewers

“Beyond Scared Straight” is a record-setter for A&E.

Reality skein drew 3.7 million viewers in its Thursday night premiere, the most of any show in the history of the cabler. In the ad-friendly 18-49 demo, 2.2 million tuned in.

Quite impressive, and a good sign for its long-term health, was the fact viewer levels rose each half-hour during the 90-minute episode.

“We could not be more proud to have undertaken this groundbreaking series and the audience response is extremely rewarding,” said president-g.m. Bob DeBitetto. ” ‘Beyond Scared Straight’ truly exemplifies our unique brand of highly engaging programming with a focus on excellent storytelling and first-class auspices.”

The series profiles offender programs around the country that put at-risk teens of all ethnicities into intensive one-day in-prison sessions that show them the unfiltered realities of life behind bars.

It’s been a strong week for A&E. Wednesday’s “Storage Wars,” which net just renewed for a second season, drew a series high 2.8 million viewers while 3 million tuned in to the season finale of “Hoarders” Monday.

Robert Sharenow, Laura Fleury, Jordana Hochman and Arnold Shapiro are exec producers. Shapiro was the creative force behind the 1978 Emmy-winning doc “Scared Straight.”

On the scripted side, A&E is readying for the March 13 premiere of “Breakout Kings.”