"Jersey Shore's" third season premiere yielded the highest viewership for the reality series yet and the most ever for a series telecast on MTV, the network said on Friday.

The first show of the third season, which aired on Thursday, saw the cast return to Seaside Heights, New Jersey and drew a record 8.45 million viewers to the dramatic antics of the likes of Snooki, The Situation and new cast member Deena Nicole Cortese. The second season was set in Miami.

About 6.5 million of Thursday night's viewers were in the coveted 12 to 34-year-old age group, MTV said, which is appealing to advertisers looking to attract younger audiences.