Blockbuster Ratings for Dick Clark’s 40th ‘Rockin’ Eve’

Ryan Seacrest and Dick Clark scored big ratings on New Year's Eve (Photo: ABC)

TV legend Dick Clark has reason to celebrate today — his 40th annual “Rockin’ Eve” New Year’s Eve special on ABC drew 22.6 million viewers Saturday night.

It was the highest viewership for Clark’s annual star-studded countdown show from New York’s Times Square in 11 years, ABC said Sunday. Clark’s special ushering in 2012 — officially titled “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” — aired from 11:35 p.m. to 12:32 a.m. (10:35-11:32c), but that high-rated hour was just one of four hours ABC devoted to New Year’s Eve Saturday night.

The network also had three hours of prime-time “Rockin’ Eve” programming that averaged 9.822 million viewers from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. (7-10c), giving ABC a Saturday night win over the other three broadcast networks.

In fact, ABC’s highest-rated competitor in prime time Saturday night was CBS, with a lowly average of 2.76 million from 8 to 11. Of course, most of America had New Year’s Eve on its mind, which meant ABC’s programming was more in touch with what its audience was interested in on Saturday night.

Moreover, with network TV comprising mostly reruns in recent years on Saturday evenings, ABC’s “Rockin’ Eve” programming represented a welcome change — live, original, entertainment programming originating from New York and Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve.

And we love that Dick Clark was the one who packed ’em in. He’s 82 and diminished physically in the aftermath of a stroke. And yet, America loves him, and it showed in the ratings New Year’s Eve.

Happy New Year, Dick — you earned it.

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