Sterling Cooper boys, Mad Men

Carin Baer/AMC

Sure, Mad Men isn't as big as a rain delay yet, but please, one thing at a time.

The Rat Pack-era drama, which netted nearly as many Emmy nominations this month as it did viewers last season, kicked off its second year Sunday night before a record 2.1 million, the latest Nielsen Media Research stats show.

The premiere number was a whopping 129 percent improvement over the 915,000 viewers the typical Mad Men episode averaged last season.

Previously a show familiar with the phrase "critically loved, little watched," Mad Men got a profile boost July 18 when it was nominated for more Emmys, 16, than any other drama series.

But for all the raves, shows on Sunday night that netted larger audiences than the AMC series included:

  • a 12:15 a.m. installment of Aqua Teen Hungerforce on Adult Swim (2.14 million);
  • the latest new episode of VH1's metareality show, I Love Money (2.2 million);
  • a George Lopez rerun on Nick at Nite (2.3 million); and
  • ESPN's time-killer coverage during the hourlong rain delay of its Sunday night baseball game (3 million).

Good thing a good ad man, especially a Mad one, stays focused on the positive.

Here are the week's other rating highlights:

  • The CW's Gossip Girl gets more ink, but ABC Family's The Secret Life of the American Teenager (3.1 million—a season high) is getting more viewers.
  • TNT's The Closer (7.1 million) ruled among cable shows. USA ruled among cable networks with three of the top five most-watched series: Monk (5.1 million), Burn Notice (4.8 million), and Psych (4.5 million).
  • Nick's iCarly closed out its first season and went out on top among cable comedy series (3.8 million for the first episode; 4.4 million for the second).
  • Not to be outdone by upstart Carly Shay, Disney Channel deployed a 3-D Hannah Montana on Saturday night. An audience of 5.9 million for the TV premiere of Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert ensued.
  • If Big Daddy's House never takes off, at least a bunch of people saw aspiring TV personality Aaron McCargo Jr. claim victory in the fourth-season finale of The Next Food Network Star (4.5 million).
  • HGTV's Design Star (3.4 million) had a big week; Oxygen's Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood had a personal-best week (1.1 million); Bravo's Project Runway (2.6 million) had a strong, but not showy, week.
  • In broadcast TV, NBC's America's Got Talent stayed No. 1 and averaged a season-high 13.2 million viewers.
  • ABC's High School Musical: Get in the Picture continues to pull cable-esque numbers (87th place, 3.1 million for last Monday's episode; 91st place, 3 million for Sunday's episode).
  • Prime-time baseball was gone, and ABC's Wipeout (second place, 10 million) was back.
  • Wanna Bet? Apparently not—an 89th place start (3.1 million viewers) for the premiering ABC game show.
  • ABC's medical reality show Hopkins (34th place, 5.3 million) plays better in the summer heat than reruns of the network's medical drama series Grey's Anatomy (76th place, 3.6 million).
  • What won't a swinger do on Friday night? Watch CBS' Swingtown (59th place, 4.2 million).
  • New CBS cop show Flashpoint, gifted with Swingtown's former Thursday night home, is liking the new digs (18th place, 6.7 million).

Overall, the week was a weak one for the broadcast networks. CBS was the biggest of the bunch, averaging 6.1 million viewers. Fox locked up the most young adults, averaging 2.6 million.

In cable, USA (3 million) led in prime time, followed by Disney (2.8 million) and TNT (2.4 million).

Here's a look at the 10 most-watched broadcast network prime-time shows for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research:

  1. America's Got Talent, NBC, 13.2 million viewers
  2. Wipeout, ABC, 10 million viewers
  3. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 9.8 million viewers
  4. 60 Minutes, CBS, 9.5 million viewers
  5. So You Think You Can Dance (Wednesday), Fox, 8.6 million viewers
  6. NCIS, CBS, 8.5 million viewers
  7. Criminal Minds, CBS, 8.4 million viewers
  8. So You Think You Can Dance (Thursday), Fox, 8.38 million viewers
  9. CSI: Miami, CBS, 8.1 million viewers
  10. House, Fox, 7.9 million viewers
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