After a brief hiatus, MTV's Jersey Shore returned Thursday night with a strong -- but noticeably lower -- Season 5 debut.
The 10:00 p.m. broadcast brought in 7.6 million viewers, according to fast affiliate ratings, easily winning the night among cable broadcasts and only ranking below ESPN's airings of the Sugar, Rose and Fiesta Bowls as the new year's most watched.
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This number is down from August's premiere of Season 4, which brought in 8.8 million for the series -- the most successful in network history.
A drop was largely expected for Jersey Shore. Its recent season concluded fewer than three months ago. A 14 percent drop is hardly bad for a series of its age.
In the network's coveted adults 18-49 demographic, Jersey Shore brought in a 4.0 rating. That's a drop of 7 percent from the last premiere, which scored a 4.3 rating, and a 8 percent jump from the last episode, October's Season 4 finale. That score is also down a shade from its Season 3 premiere score of a 4.2 in the demo.