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The New Season: 'High School' ratings make it most likely to succeed

August 18, 2007 |  4:16 pm

Looks as if a lot of people couldn't wait to get back to high school.

Friday's premiere of "High School Musical 2" on the Disney Channel smashed ratings records, with a total audience of 17.2 million, according to figures from Nielsen Media Research. That makes the bubblegum-pop extravaganza the most-watched basic cable telecast of all time, and it also more than doubles the tally for the original "HSM," which became a surprise hit last year (7.7 million). The sequel did especially well among viewers who are far too young for the prom: Disney officials bragged that "HSM2" was the most-watched show in TV history among kids ages 6 to 11.

The results bode well for Disney's plans to turn "HSM" into the company's latest monster franchise. Also sure to be taking notice are executives at rival networks. Broadcasters have pursued a strategy of reruns and reality series this summer, only to watch millions of viewers defect to basic cable.

-- Scott Collins