The overnight ratings are in, and the debut of "The Bachelorette" was a resounding success, as the third edition premiere of the ABC franchise drew an average audience of 17.6 million viewers and earned an 8.5 rating, 20 in the key Adult 18-49 demo. "The Bachelorette" dominated its closest competition in the hour, topping an original episode of NBC's "West Wing" (14.0 million & 4.7/11) by 3.6 million viewers and by 81% in Adults 18-49. "The Bachelorette" stood as the No. 1 television program on Wednesday night in Adults 18-49, outdelivering the second-highest-rated program, an original episode of NBC's "Law and Order" (7.2/19), by a strong 18% in the key demo.

The debut of "The Bachelorette" started out at high levels for the franchise, drawing the third-largest audience, behind only the season finales for "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelor II." The demographic story is even stronger with the premiere scoring the second-highest ratings ever for the franchise among Adults 18-34 (9.3/24) and Adults 18-49, behind only the enormous season finale of "The Bachelor II" in November. If history is any indication, "The Bachelorette" is on a path to deliver record-setting ratings, as the "The Bachelor II" grew by nearly 15 million viewers (11.0 million to 25.9 million) and by 143% in Adults 18-49 (4.9/12 to 11.9/28) from its first episode to its finale.

Excluding the season finale of "The Bachelor II" (11/20/02), the premiere of "The Bachelorette" delivered ABC's largest audience and highest young adult ratings with a series in the hour in more than 2-1/2 years - since 5/24/00 with the Michael J. Fox farewell episode of "Spin City."

"The Bachelorette" exhibited higher ratings among Men than "The Bachelor." Compared to the season average for "The Bachelor II" (including the finale), "The Bachelorette" attracted 15% more Men 18-34 (6.3/18 vs. 5.5/16) and 18% more Men 18-49 (5.8/15 vs. 4.9/13). Like its predecessors, "The Bachelorette" is appointment television. The program surged from its lead-in and gained 2 million viewers (16.6 million to 18.6 million) and 15% in Adults 18-49 (7.9/19 to 9.1/22) from start to finish.