Rizzoli & Isles Outdraws Closer Lead-in

TNT appears to have a bona fide hit on its hands in its new original procedural series Rizzoli & Isles.

Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data, the second episode of the Angie Harmon-Sasha Alexander drama attracted 7.27 million viewers Monday night at 10 p.m., retaining 96 percent of its premiere audience (7.55 million).

Tearing a page from one of the most infamous cold cases in American history––the much-disputed “Boston Strangler” killings of 1962-64––the July 19 installment of Rizzoli & Isles held steady on the demo front. Last night’s show served up 2.71 million adults 25-54 (flat versus the premiere’s 2.72 million) and 1.98 million viewers 18-49 (down 5 percent from last week’s 2.08 million).

Leading into Rizzoli & Isles at 9 p.m., the season’s second episode of The Closer put up some big numbers as well, drawing 6.97 million viewers, down 9 percent from the sixth-season premiere (7.66 million). The Closer averaged 2.27 million adults 25-54 (down 15 percent from the July 19 opener) and 1.66 million viewers 18-49, a decline of 17 percent.

The average drop-off between a season premiere and the second installment is generally between 15 and 20 percent.

Boasting two strong female leads as well as support from Lorraine Bracco (The Sopranos, Goodfellas), Chazz Palminteri (The Usual Suspects, A Bronx Tale) and Donnie Wahlberg (NKOTB, Band of Brothers) Rizzoli & Isles appears to be the perfect companion piece for The Closer. Monday night is a somewhat untapped resource for networks looking to reach female viewers, given that the evening is dominated by male-skewing series like USA Network’s WWE Raw and History’s Pawn Stars and American Pickers.

In the few instances where female viewers are courted en masse, much of Monday night’s deliveries fall to a much younger crowd. On the whole, TNT shouldn’t see much overlap with the likes of Bravo’s Real Housewives of New Jersey and ABC Family’s scripted hit, The Secret Life of the American Teen.

Through its first two episodes, Rizzoli & Isles is outclassing cable’s slate of new scripted summer series. USA Network’s Tuesday night drama Covert Affairs premiered to 4.88 million viewers on July 13, TNT’s own Memphis Beat started up June 22 in front of 4.33 million viewers and A&E’s The Glades bowed on Sunday, July 11, to 3.55 million viewers.

That said, with a premiere draw of 2.1 million viewers 18-49, Covert has the edge among the most desirable demo, edging the R&I premiere (2.08 million), while handily beating Beat (1.41 million) and Glades (1.21 million).