TNT's Falling Skies soared as cable TV's most-watched series debut of the year, attracting more than 5.9 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen data.
Of that total, Sunday night's two-hour kickoff starring Noah Wyle also grabbed 2.6 million-plus among 18-to-49-year-olds.
The cast of Falling Skies discusses why their alien invasion tale could work
The Steven Spielberg-produced show, about the aftermath of an alien invasion that devastated much of the Earth, put up the best numbers for a scripted series debut since July 12, 2010, when TNT's Rizzoli & Isles snared an audience of 7.6 million.
Of course, in the wake of similarly alien-themed dramas like V and The Event crashing and burning, the question will be whether Falling Skies will plummet after its promising start.
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On broadcast television, NBC's Miss USA Pageant attracted 7.25 million viewers and a 2.2 demo rating — 57 percent higher than last year — in the last two hours of prime time. It was the most-watched Miss USA extravaganza since 2007.
The 38th annual Daytime Emmy Awards averaged 5.42 million viewers on CBS from 8 to 10, getting just a 0.8 rating in the coveted demo — a 27 percent decline from the 2010 show that ran 9 to 11 p.m.
Actually, the most-watched programming in Sunday's prime time, which starts an hour earlier than other nights (7/6c), was the final half hour of NBC's coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament's final round, in which 22-year-old Rory McIlroy roared to a multiple record-setting victory. Some 9.01 million people watched the star-making conclusion.