Disney Channel has pulled out another summer stunner, drawing more than 11 million viewers for Friday night’s premiere of "Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie."
The 11.4 million total viewers who tuned in "Wizards" represents the biggest audience for any cable broadcast this year. Among kids 6-11 and tweens 9-14, the movie was the No. 1 entertainment event among both broadcast and cable networks.
"Wizards," written by Dan Berendsen ("Hannah Montana: The Movie"), now ranks as Disney Channel’s second biggest movie broadcast ever. "High School Musical 2," of course, remains the champ, having notched a 17.2 million viewers in August 2007.
While broadcasters rightly complain that cable numbers are overhyped– most network summer repeats draw more viewers than original cable fare– there’s no excuses for the Big Four with "Waverly."
Its audience of 11.4 million was 93 percent greater than the roughly 5.9 million viewers who watched second place CBS from 8-10 p.m. Friday night. And except for NBC’s "America’s Got Talent"– one of the few shows on network TV these days with family appeal– few broadcast shows have reached the 11 million mark this summer.
The big numbers for "Wizards" bookends a big summer for Disney Channel. In June, the network drew 8.5 million viewers with the premiere of "Princess Protection Program."