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Ratings: ABC’s ‘Dancing’ Delivers Biggest Premiere Ever

”Castle“ also scores a series best as the Alphabet cha-cha-chas its way to victory

ABC waltzed its way back to the top of the ratings Monday, with monster ratings for "Dancing with the Stars" boosting "Castle" to a series high and first place finish at 10 p.m.

Monday’s two-hour 10th season premiere of "DWTS" averaged a strong 6.3 rating/17 share among adults 18-49, improving about 4 percent from last March’s 5.9 rating (and way up from the fall bow of a 4.1/10). It’s the third consecutive spring "DWTS" has boosted its Nielsen numbers — a rare feat for an older reality show.

What’s more, Monday’s opener brought in 23.9 million viewers overall — the biggest "DWTS" premiere ever. (Among adults 18-49, it was the show’s second best premiere).

And not counting a single college football game, ABC had its best Monday viewership in 10 years.

All this gave a lift to "Castle," which averaged a preliminary 3.6/10 in the demo and 12.9 million viewers at 10 p.m. That number will likely go down a bit (two minutes of "DWTS" is included in the score), but it seems certain "Castle" will end up defeating a first-run episode of CBS’s "CSI: Miami" (3.2/9) for the first time ever. ABC’s hot sophomore also easily beat NBC’s "Law & Order" (1.8/5).

The ratings spark for "DWTS" has to be vindication for ABC execs, who saw their signature reality franchise stumble this fall in both ratings and buzz. Viewers complained about a too-large cast, among other things, prompting the network to make some surgical adjustments to the format (less contestants) and up the star quotient.

Elsewhere in the ratings, Fox’s "24" continues to crawl to the finish line with a 2.7/7 (flat vs. last week).

CBS’s comedies were solid, but most were down double digits from their last pre-Daylight Saving Time originals. ("Rules of Engagement," which was first-run last week, bounced back from its DST dip, jumping 22 percent).

NBC’s "Chuck" stabilized (1.9/7), beating a repeat of Fox’s "House" (1.7/5).