USA Network appears to have another hit on its hands in White Collar, as the new original series delivered 5.37 million viewers Friday night at 10 p.m.
Boosted by USA’s $10 million media blitz––the campaign includes spots on national cable as well as in-house promos and outdoor––White Collar enjoyed a strong opening night, on par with the 5.59 million viewers its most recent new series, Royal Pains, drew with its June 4 opener.
If Royal Pains is any indication, USA’s newest home-grown drama should see a significant uptick in viewers upon application of live-plus-seven-day ratings. The Pains premiere gained 23 percent with a week’s worth of time-shifted viewing factored in, drawing 6.86 million viewers, per Nielsen L7 data.
White Collar also put together some healthy demo numbers, averaging 2.18 million adults 25-54 and 1.79 million viewers 18-49, marking USA’s best performance in the time slot in 20 months. By comparison, Pains’ premiere drew 2.5 million 25-54s and 2.3 million 18-49s in its Thursday 10 p.m. slot.
While Monk and Psych have established USA’s Friday night bona fides, there was some question as to how a premiere would fare in the midst of broadcast’s fall schedule. In August, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment president Bonnie Hammer said late-October was the ideal window for a White Collar launch, as it is “late enough that people have already sampled the broadcast menu and are interested in seeing something fresh.”
The premiere ran with a reduced commercial load, thanks to a presenting sponsorship commitment from Ford. The automaker took ownership of the first break, a special 60-second pod in which it showcased the 2010 Taurus. Ford also received a season-long integration.