LOS ANGELES — CBS’ big-ticket summer series “Under the Dome” got off to a strong start Monday night with 13.14 million viewers tuning in, according to Nielsen.
For CBS, the numbers were the best for a new summer scripted show since the 1992 prime-time soap “2000 Malibu Road” delivered 17.05 million viewers.
Of course, in 1992, 17 million viewers was not considered a huge number, whereas 13 million viewers is large by 2013 standards.
“Under the Dome,” based on a Stephen King book of the same name, is about a small town that for mysterious reasons becomes enclosed under a huge transparent dome. The show is filmed in and around Wilmington.
For years, the broadcast networks have stuck primarily to reality programming during the summer, which has allowed cable networks to make inroads with scripted fare. But with few new reality shows breaking out, CBS is gambling that a big-budget drama series could break through.
“Under the Dome” cost between $3 million and $3.4 million per episode to make. CBS sold digital rights to the 13-episode series to Amazon at a price in the high six figures per-episode and also did well with international sales.
Networks have also been wary of spending money on the summer because traditionally there are fewer viewers to reach. However, the ratings for “Under the Dome” would be just as solid in the regular TV season. The numbers for “Under the Dome” will likely climb higher when viewers who recorded the show to watch later are factored in.