Disney’s ‘Wizards of Waverly Movie’ casts spell over ratings

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Nobody can corral a crowd of kids on Friday night quite like the Disney Channel.

Net’s debut of “Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie” drew a whopping average audience of 11.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen prelims, making it cable’s most-watched telecast of the year.

Disney Channel can now claim the top four entertainment telecasts on cable over the past two years with “High School Musical 2” (17.2 million in August 2007), Friday’s “Wizards” movie, an episode of “Hannah Montana” (10.7 million in August 2007) and crossover event “Wizards on Deck With Hannah Montana” (9.3 million on July 17).

And all four aired on Fridays, where the cabler — as well as rival Nickelodeon — has smartly tapped into a willing and available audience. It also helps that the broadcast networks no longer go after kids and teens on the night.

“Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie,” based on the family comedy about three young siblings who happen to be wizards, also ranks as television’s No. 1 entertainment telecast of 2009 in kids 6-11 (4.5 million) and tweens 9-14 (4.0 million), according to Nielsen.

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