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ABC’s Once Upon a Time debuts as the season’s number one new drama

ABC says the series premiere of Sunday night’s Once Upon a Time opened as the season’s No. 1 new drama in Adults 18-49, with a 3.9 rating and 12.8M total viewers.

The complete press statement is included after the jump.

Posting a Season-High in Adults 18-49, ABC Equals its Top Sunday in Over 7 Months

“America’s Funniest Home Videos” Pulls its 2nd-Biggest Audience of the Season

More than Doubling its Lead-in to Open as TV’s No. 1 New Drama in Adults 18-49, “Once Upon A Time” Marks ABC’s Highest Series Rating in the Slot in Nearly 3 Years

Hitting its 2nd-Best Results this Season, ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” Beats

“The Good Wife” for the 5th Straight Week and by a Best-Yet 50% in Adults 18-49

Building Week to Week in Adults 18-34 and Women 18-34, ABC’s “Pan Am”

Is Sunday’s No. 1 10pm Drama in Women 18-34 for the 5th Straight Week

Sunday Night (7:00-11:00 p.m.)

Opposite big sports competition from Fox’s World Series Game 4 and NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” ABC’s Adult 18-49 audience surged by 30% week to week (2.6/6 vs. 2.0/5), hitting a season-high and equaling its top-rated Sunday in more than 7 months – since 3/6/11.

“America’s Funniest Home Videos” (7:00-8:00 p.m.)

During the 7:00 p.m. hour, ABC’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos” drew its 2nd-largest audience (6.6 million) of the season and achieved season highs with key Women (W18-34/W18-49).

“Once Upon A Time” (8:00-9:00 p.m.)

More than doubling its Adult 18-49 lead-in at 8:00 p.m. (+160%) and gaining audience throughout its premiere against the World Series and Sunday Night Football, ABC’s series debut of “Once Upon A Time” opened with an average audience of 12.8 million viewers and a 3.9 rating, 10 share among Adults 18-49, standing as Sunday’s No. 1 non-sports program.

ABC’s “Once Upon A Time” opened as TV’s No. 1 drama debut this season in Adults 18-49 and as the top-rated in more than 1 year – since 9/20/10. In fact, ABC claims the season’s Top 2 drama debuts with “Once Upon A Time” and “Revenge,” respectively.

“Once Upon A Time” drew ABC’s biggest audience in the time period with regular programming in over 3-1/2 years and its top Adult 18-49 number in nearly 3 years – since 3/30/08 and 11/2/08, respectively.

In Total Viewers and Adults 18-49, “Once Upon A Time” stands as Sunday’s biggest non-NFL-driven drama debut in 5 years – since ABC’s “Brothers & Sisters” on 9/24/06.

“Desperate Housewives” (9:00-10:00 p.m.)

Gaining 11% week to week, ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” (3.0/7) defeated CBS’ “The Good Wife” (2.0/5) by a best-yet 50% in Adults 18-49, dominating the CBS drama for the 5th straight telecast this season. “Housewives” stood as Sunday’s No. 2 series with young adults, behind only “Once Upon A Time.”

Marking its 2nd-highest-numbers this season, ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” rose by double-digit percentages over the prior week in Total Viewers (+11% – 9.2 million vs. 8.3 million) and Adults 18-49 (+11% – 3.0/7 vs. 2.7/6).

“Pan Am” (10:00-11:00 p.m.)

During the 10 o’clock hour, ABC’s “Pan Am” qualified as the No. 1 drama with Adults 18-34 (1.4/4) and Women 18-34 (1.9/5), registering as the hour’s top-drama for the 5th week in a row on the latter measure.

The new ABC drama retained 100% of it Adult 18-49 audience week to week, while growing by 8% in Adults 18-34 and by 6% in Women 18-34.

A note about increasing DVR penetration and year-to-year rating comparisons: Year-to-year rating comparisons based on the Live + Same Day data stream are distorted by the level of DVR penetration in the Nielsen sample, which has jumped up to 42% currently, from 38% at the same point in 2010. More viewers are watching shows on their own timetables, which may not be reflected in the overnight next day numbers. The only truly valid year-to-year comparison would be one based on the Live + 7 Day metric, once those stats are released by Nielsen.

Source: The Nielsen Company (Fast Affiliate, Live + Same Day Ratings), 10/23/11.