NBC's new reality show Fear Factor, lambasted by the critics, answered back by handily winning its timeslot in its Monday-night debut.
Fear Factor, which aired from 8 to 9 p.m., averaged 11.9 million viewers, easily winning the hour and dominating all key demos including adults 18-49 and women 18-49.
In Fear Factor, hosted by former NewsRadio star Joe Rogan, six people each week are challenged with different stunts — including being covered with live rats (a highlight of Monday's premiere), jumping from a moving jet ski onto a helicopter and escaping from a car submerged in a tank of water.
Monday's debut delivered the highest rating for an NBC summer premiere of a new series in nearly seven years — since Dateline premiered in June 1994 on a Thursday night.
Compared to NBC's Summer 2000 timeslot average, Fear Factor was up 63 percent in adults 18-49 and a whopping 92 percent in men 18-49.
It also held a 27 percent advantage in total viewers over its nearest timeslot competitor.
Fear Factor, in fact, helped lead NBC to a dominant Monday-night victory. NBC averaged 4.9 million households in adults 18-49 and averaged 11.1 million viewers overall.
It also marked the first time that NBC won all six half hours of prime time in adults 18-49 on a Monday without sports since Feb. 8, 1999.
As of last week, NBC had only filmed nine episodes of Fear Factor — a number that is sure to increase if the reality show's ratings continue on a similar path.
Fear Factor also led to another stellar performance from Weakest Link, which has also been airing during halftime of NBC's coverage of the NBA Finals.