TLC put up some grizzly-sized numbers Sunday night, as the premiere of its one-hour travelogue Sarah Palin’s Alaska outstripped early expectations, scaring up 4.96 million viewers in the 9 p.m. EST time slot.
Per Nielsen fast nationals, the series opener drew a markedly older audience, as adults 25-54 made up just 36 percent, or 1.8 million, of the overall delivery while viewers 18-49 accounted for a third of the total viewership. Seventy-nine percent of those who tuned in were age 35 or older.
Sarah Palin’s Alaska now stands as the No. 1 program launch in TLC history among total viewers, besting the debut of What Not to Wear in 2003. The premiere easily surpassed the network’s eight-week average in the time slot, more than trebling the 1.34 million viewers TLC has reached in the period going back to Sept. 12.
While such a lift is always welcome, TLC of late hasn’t exactly been struggling for ratings. The network is actually out-performing its deliveries from the second quarter of 2009, when the Jon & Kate Plus 8 implosion drew as many as 10.7 million viewers. In the third quarter of this year, TLC averaged 1.1 million total viewers and 568,000 adults 18-49, up 3 percent from the numbers it served up during its J&KP8 heyday.
TLC used the series premiere as promotional vehicle for three new series, running a pair of spots for What the Sell?, which bowed immediately following the SPA opener. Other in-house promos ran in support of the Cake Boss spinoff, Next Great Baker, a competition series bowing Dec. 6, and Kelly Ripa’s docu-series Homemade Millionaire, which debuts this Friday (Nov. 19).