Monk Finale Draws Huge Audience

USA Network on Friday night (Dec. 4) drew the curtain on its signature drama series Monk, sending off the OCD PI in front of a record crowd of 9.44 million viewers.

Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data, the series finale of Monk now stands as the most-watched episode of an original cable series, edging past TNT’s The Closer. (The Sept. 10, 2007, season-three finale of The Closer drew 9.21 million viewers. Upon application of seven days of DVR playback, that delivery swelled 8 percent to 9.95 million viewers.)

Prior to Friday night’s finale, Monk had never drawn north of 7 million total viewers. The wrap beat the previous high-water mark by 37 percent.

Episode No. 125, “Mr. Monk and the End (Pt. 2),” drew 3.2 million viewers 18-49 and 3.74 million adults 25-54, easily topping everything else on broadcast on the night in both demos.

Created by Andy Breckman and starring Tony Shalhoub as the obsessive-compulsive Det. Adrian Monk, the series debuted on July 12, 2002, and established the blueprint for USA’s “Characters Welcome” programming/marketing philosophy. Over the course of eight seasons, Monk featured cameos from the likes of Stanley Tucci, John Turturro and Jason Alexander.

Along with Breckman, Monk’s stable of writers included Tom Scharpling, Daniel Dratch, Hy Conrad, Peter Wolk and Joe Toplyn.

Monk lead-out White Collar closed out the first half of its premiere run on a high note, serving up 5.55 million viewers at 10 p.m. The final installment of 2009 also drew 2.25 million adults 25-54 and 2.1 million viewers 18-49.

Over the course of its first seven episodes, White Collar averaged 4.73 million viewers. The series returns Jan. 19, 2010, in a new time slot (Tuesdays at 10 p.m.).