TLC’s Jon & Kate Plus 8 Still Drawing Viewers

While TLC’s Jon & Kate Plus 8 cooled down considerably after last week’s tumultuous season-five premiere, Monday night’s doubleheader still managed to scare up a huge crowd.

The 9 p.m. Installment of Jon & Kate served up 5.5 million viewers, per Nielsen ratings data, leading into a second episode that improved on that delivery by 9 percent (5.9 million). On the hour, TLC averaged 5.7 million viewers, and while that was far short of the astonishing 9.8 million who tuned in for the Memorial Day opener, both half-hours easily topped Jon & Kate’s previous high-water mark of 4.6 million (May 23, 2009).

If the Gosselin household remains fraught with tension, the quiet seething of last week’s premiere has given way to a more kid-centric narrative. Monday night’s lead-off episode followed Kate and daughter Mady on a squid-tossing/book-signing trip to San Diego, while a more-sunburned-than-usual Jon contended with the remaining seven kids. (The Gosselin brood includes a pair of eight-year-old twin daughters and a matched set of five-year-old sextuplets.)

The second episode of the night documented the preparations for Kate’s 34th birthday, which was commemorated with a trip to Charm City Cakes in Baltimore. (Proprietor Duff Goldman is something of a reality TV star himself, as he helms Food Network’s top-rated prime-time program Ace of Cakes, now in its sixth season.)

Jon Gosselin kept a low profile for the birthday episode, which was shot in March. He skipped out on the party to go snowboarding in Park City, Utah.

Meanwhile, Jon & Kate lead-out Cake Boss returned for its second spin in front of an audience of 2.2 million viewers, down 31 percent versus the series premiere a week ago, which delivered 3.2 million viewers.