'High School Musical 2' Smashes Records

The Disney Channel's highly anticipated sequel "High School Musical 2" smashed a bevy of viewership records on Friday (Aug. 17) night.

The follow-up to the phenomenon that was "High School Musical" drew an estimated 17.2 million viewers on Friday night, a figure Disney Channel boasts makes it the most-watched basic cable telecast ever. That's an eight percent bump from the Sept. 23, 2006 "Monday Night Football" telecast, which gave ESPN the previous record.

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"High School Musical 2" became the most watched basic cable movie of all time in total viewers by a margin of almost two million over 2001's "Crossfire Trail" on TNT.

From Zac Efron to Vanessa Anne Hudgens to Ashley Tisdale to Lucas Grabeel to Corbin Bleu to Monique Coleman, all of the original "High School Musical" stars returned and the sequel drew 6.1 million kids between the ages of 6 and 11 and 5.9 million in the 9-to-14 tween demographic. Thus, "High School Musical 2" can now claim to be TV's most watched entertainment telecast ever in tweens (still trailing 2004's Super Bowl, if you want to get all technical about it).

"High School Musical 2" drew the biggest audience for any Friday night telecast of any sort in more than five years and directly contributed to a night of low ratings on the major networks.

Airing from 8 p.m. to 10:05 p.m., "HSM2" then expanded its halo to a special preview of the original series "Phineas & Ferb," which drew 10.8 million, Disney Channel's second largest audience ever. Disney Channel's third largest audience, a flock of 10.7 million, then stuck around at 10:20 for an episode of "Hannah Montana," which can now stake its claim to having basic cable's most watched series telecast ever.