Grabbing "Project Runway" is beginning to look like a triumph for Lifetime.
The fashion design reality series began its long-delayed sixth season Thursday, delivering 4.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. That's the program's highest premiere number and a whopping 45% increase compared with last summer's Season 5 launch on Bravo.
"Runway" is being closely watched because the move to Lifetime resulted in a nasty lawsuit between NBC Universal, which owns Bravo, and Weinstein Co., which makes the show. NBC said that in cutting the deal with Lifetime, Weinstein had violated its contractual rights. The suit was settled this year.
Andrea Wong, president and chief executive of Lifetime, said in an interview Friday that the network was thrilled with the ratings and that "Runway" will be a "key part in the evolution of our brand, to bring more relevance and a more contemporary feel" to the network.