"Fairly Legal" has fairly decent debut

Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:52pm EST

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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - U.S. cable network USA's latest new series "Fairly Legal" with Sarah Shahi launched last night.

Luring in 3.9 million viewers for its Thursday debut, "Legal" was below the network's averages for a series premiere, though none of its original scripted shows have ever launched in mid-January. In that sense, "Legal" was the guinea pig.

Expectations were kept in check for "Legal's" premiere, considering the wealth of television available to viewers (and MTV's record-setting telecast of "Jersey Shore") on Thursdays, and USA noted that its numbers were well within range.

(For added context but not direct comparisons, "White Collar," which debuted in October 2009, drew in 5.3 million; "In Plain Sight" premiered June 2008 with 5.3 million; and "Covert Affairs" snagged 4.9 million for its July launch. "Affairs" did see a ratings uptick.)

Nearly a third of "Legal's" viewership belonged in the key 18-49 demo, with 1.4 million viewers. In the 18-34 category, roughly 506,000 belonged in the demographic, while 1.58 million fell in the 25-54 bracket.

The winter premiere of "Royal Pains" snagged 4.4 million viewers at 9 p.m. and offered "Legal" a healthy lead-in, though it was down significantly -- though expected -- compared to its Season 2 summer opener (5.8 million).

This is the first time USA is airing "Pains" throughout the winter and the first time the dramedy is being used as a launching pad for a new series, instead of following the veteran spy drama "Burn Notice."

Like "Legal," roughly a third of "Pain's" viewers (1.5 million) belonged in the adult demo.

(Editing by Zorianna Kit)

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