The USA Network hit factory shows no sign of slowing down. Opposite huge competition from pivotal episodes of Deadliest Catch and The Hills (more on that in a minute), the heavily hyped Tuesday premiere of Covert Affairs — starring Coyote Ugly star Piper Perabo as
Sydney Bristow Annie Walker — brought in 4.9 million viewers at 10 p.m., building by 14 percent on the second-season premiere of White Collar (4.3 million viewers). While Covert attracted a smaller overall audience than some other big cable premieres this summer (including Rizzoli & Isles and Hot in Cleveland), the show's audience composition was far younger: Nearly half of its overall viewership was under 50, making it the No. 1 scripted series premiere on cable so far in 2010 in that key category. Covert opened against some massive competition Tuesday, which might explain why USA's newbie came in a bit below the network's big bow from last summer, Royal Pains (it earned 5.6 million viewers with its first episode).
As for said competition, Discovery's two-hour farewell to captain Phil Harris was a ginormous TV event, drawing a series-best 8.5 million viewers in the 9 p.m. hour Tuesday (up big-time from last week's old record of 5.3 million). A reunion/tribute special of sorts, After the Catch, did big numbers at 10 p.m., drawing 6.8 million tear-soaked fans. Impressive as those numbers are, divorce apparently trumps death in cable: Last year's "we're getting divorced" episode of TLC's Jon and Kate Plus 8 was seen by over 10 million rubberneckers.
Meanwhile, it was a good news/bad news situation for our pals at MTV's The Hills. Good: The series finale averaged almost 3 million viewers, with a heavy concentration of women under 35. Bad: At its peak two years ago, The Hills was drawing around 5 million viewers for key episodes. In other words, it was time to say good-bye and let The Situation enjoy the spotlight ... for a few more months.