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."