Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres

WBAL-TV likes what it sees from the early returns on "Ellen" as its replacement at 4 p.m. for "Oprah."

Monday's premiere opened 64 percent higher than the premiere of the last season on "Oprah" in September 2010.

Perhaps, most impressive is that "Ellen" was up 43 percent over Oprah in women 25 to 54 years of age, the kind of demographic the station can sell some ads on.

The number of total viewers for "Ellen" was impressive. WBAL had 59,153 viewers, which almost doubled its nearest competitor, WBFF with 30,195.

WJZ had 25,412 viewers during the hour, while WNUV had 16,657.  WUTB and WMAR brought up the rear with 10,825 and 9,292 viewers respectively.

In terms of providing a lead-in to the 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts, "Ellen" showed some promise there as well. WBAL won at 5 and 6 with women and adults 25-54.

It is way too early to call "Ellen" a slam-dunk winning replacement, but after more than a year of speculation, it has to be nice for WBAL to have some positive numbers to trumpet.

“We are thrilled that Ellen has been an instant ratings success at 4," Dan Joerres, WBAL-TV president and general manager said in an email exchange. "We are confident she will continue to do well in the time period”.