By James Hibberd
Updated February 07, 2012 at 04:38 PM EST
Credit: NBC

Monday’s twin debuts of The Voice in its regular time slot and freshman drama Smash delivered pretty good news for NBC.

As expected, The Voice‘s ratings (17.7 million viewers, 6.6 adults 18-49) dropped sharply from Sunday’s post-Super Bowl debut. The singing competition was down 60 percent. But this was NBC’s highest-rated regular entertainment series telecast in over four years and gave the network a rare Monday night victory. It’s also up 29 percent from last year’s series debut of The Voice and grew steadily each half hour.

NBC’s Smash (11.5 million, 3.8) news was a bit more mixed. The musical was the third-highest-rated new drama debut of the season and delivered the biggest 10 p.m. rating of any drama this season. Yet even with the mammoth Voice lead-in, four rival network shows had higher ratings. Plus, Smash dropped pretty sharply after The Voice, then dipped again during its second half hour.

So: The Voice did what it needed to do and its rising numbers throughout its two hours suggest strong legs for next week. But you’re curious how The Voice did compared to American Idol aren’t you? Last Wednesday’s Idol had 19.7 million viewers and a 6.5 rating. So things are close. (See our exclusive interview with Fox about Idol‘s ratings slips here.)

Also: CBS was second with its comedy block taking a slight 7 to 11 percent hit from the added competition: HIMYM (4.0), 2 Broke Girls (4.3), Two and a Half Men (4.2), and Mike & Molly (3.4). Then Hawaii Five-0 (2.7) hit a season low opposite Smash. ABC’s The Bachelor (2.6) was unfazed, but Castle (2.0), like Hawaii, hit a low. Fox had House (2.4) and Alcatraz (2.2) — the latter taking a worrisome 21 percent drop this week. The CW’s Gossip Girl (0.6) dipped, followed by Hart of Dixie (0.6).

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