'High School Musical 2' Sets TV Record
17M fans make Disney original most-watched basic cable show ever
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2007 3:19 AM CDT
Graphic profiles four leads in the hit HIgh School Musical 2; 2c x 4 3/8 inches; 96.3 mm x 111.1 mm   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – An estimated 17.2 million viewers tuned into "High School Musical 2" Friday night, making the Disney Channel original the most watched basic cable program in history. Backed by an 18-month promotional blitz, the sequel nearly doubled the debut audience of last year's "High School Musical" and is expected to generate $650 million from spinoff products by the end of 2008.

The franchise's breakout success has relaunched Disney's appeal in the 9-14 age group, reports the New York Times, and executives are realizing the massive potential of the original movie business. A third "High School Musical" is already underway and will open in theaters in late 2008.