The premiere of Dancing with the Stars 8 was the highest-rated debut in the history of the series.
Perhaps helped by the addition of Melissa Rycroft and her Bachelor baggage, the episode was watched by 22.5 million people, according to Nielsen data compiled by TV By the Numbers, which shows that the first hour had 21.28 million viewers and the second hour was watched by 23.72 million people.
All of those are more than the 22.51 million who watched American Idol 8‘s results show last Wednesday or the 21.24 who watched the wild card episode on Thursday, although last Tuesday’s performance episode had 24.21 million viewers.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that it’s “the first time a ‘Dancing’ premiere has climbed in the ratings since 2007,” and that its percentage of viewers 18 to 49 actually grew: it “is up 9% from last fall’s premiere and 5% from last spring.”
Dancing‘s growth and Idol‘s decline, it’s theoretically possible that the ABC series could overtake the Fox series in ratings this season, although class=”idol”>Idol is entering its final weeks, and typically ratings grow from this point forward.