Fairly strong start for USA’s ‘Legal’

New drama opens slightly lower than other preems

USA Network’s newest drama “Fairly Legal” opened to 3.9 million viewers Thursday night, a strong start for most networks but slightly down compared to other preems for cable’s top performer.

Last October, “White Collar” debuted the to 5.4 million viewers, while in summer 2009 “Covert Affairs” drew 4.9 million for its initial episode.

“Fairly Legal,” starring Sarah Shahi as a mediator dealing with the loss of her father and stepmother as a boss, had the back end of the season two opener of “Royal Pains” as a lead-in. Skein drew 4.4 million viewers, meaning there was a 12% audience drop-off.

It was the first time USA has premiered a show in the first quarter, with the network having much of its success with summer launches. Also, “Fairly Legal” went up against MTV powerhouse “Jersey Shore.”

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