Not everyone may be a fan of the revamped Dancing With the Stars, which now sees Tyra Banks stepping in as host for Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, but Monday night's Season 29 premiere grabbed the series its highest rating in four seasons. According to TV Line, the Monday night opener drew in 8.1 million viewers and a 1.3 demo rating. Although that audience size remained steady over the Season 28 premiere, the demo rating of 1.3 marked DWTS' best premiere rating since Season 25.
For Monday night TV, those numbers were not only enough for the ABC dancing competition to grab a four-season high, but to also beat out its TV competitors. Over on NBC, American Ninja Warrior garnered 3 million viewers and a 0.5 audience before leading into Dateline, which earned 2.8 million pairs of eyes and a 0.4. CBS' Love Island, meanwhile, ticked up week-to-week, though its 1.64 mil viewers and 0.4 demo couldn't touch DWTS. Fox's airing of Patriot Day, meanwhile earned 1.4 million viewers and a 0.3, and The CW's Whose Line received 1.1 million viewers and a 0.2, with Penn & Teller earning 949,000 viewers and a 0.2
The heavy interest in Dancing With the Stars likely has to do with the major changes the series, which was the first live show to return amid the pandemic, the series has undergone. Wishing to embark "on a new creative direction," ahead of Season 29, ABC announced that it was parting ways with both Bergeron and Andrews as hosts. In their place, Banks took over, a move that was controversial when it was announced. Her Monday night debut, meanwhile, was met with mixed reactions from viewers.
The celebrity lineup for the new season also sparked plenty of interest. Along with Bachelorette alum Kaitlyn Bristow and Backstreet Boys' AJ McLean, the series also tapped Tiger King subject Carole Baskin, who made her dancing debut alongside pro dancer Pasha Pashkov with a paso doble to Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger." The last pair to take the stage, social media erupted with discussion about the cat-themed dance, with many having stated that they tuned into the premiere, and kept watching, in anticipation of seeing Baskin.
While Baskin and Pashkov earned the lowest score of the night with only 11 out of a possible 30 votes, they aren't at risk this week of going home. As the show adjusts to airing without a live audience amid the coronavirus pandemic, ABC announced that there will be no fan vote or elimination during week one of the new season. Instead, the teams' first dances will be only scored by judges, with those scores then being combined with week two scores and audience votes to determine the first elimination of the season in the second week.