Premiere of TNT’s The Closer Tops Original Series for ’09

TNT kicked off its summer season in high style Monday night, as the season-five premiere of The Closer delivered 7.14 million viewers, making it ad-supported cable’s most-watched scripted series telecast for the year-to-date.

The Closer also out-delivered its season-four average among adults 18-49 (2.25 million) and adults 25-54 (2.94 million), per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data.

In the 10 p.m. slot, the sophomore run of Raising the Bar retained exactly one-half of its lead-in, averaging 3.57 million viewers. The courtroom drama also served up 1.42 million adults 25-54 and 1.13 million viewers 18-49.

Since bowing to a record 7.74 million viewers on Sept. 1, 2008, the Steven Bochco strip has settled into the 3 million-viewer range, and while the series isn’t likely to attain that premiere high, it is beating TNT’s delivery guarantees.

Last year, Turner renewed Raising the Bar after just three episodes.

“We’re thrilled to get the summer off to a terrific start with the return of these popular, acclaimed series,” said Michael Wright, executive vp, head of programming, TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies. “We look forward to continued success next week with the launch of Wedding Day and Hawthorne, plus the return of Saving Grace.”

The latter three series will make up TNT’s Tuesday night summertime line-up. On July 15, the Turner net will launch its third night of original dramas, as Leverage returns for its second season, leading into Jerry Bruckheimer’s new cop series, Dark Blue.

 “These shows demonstrate the network’s commitment to working with the very best talent in the industry to create a high-quality lineup that reflects positively on the network’s drama brand,” Wright said.