Splash USA Is A 'Surprisingly Awesome' Hit: Is It Really Better Than Tom Daley's UK Version?

The American version of the celebrity diving competition premiered to a whopping 8.8 million viewers...

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Tom Daley's Splash was dubbed by critics as "probably the worst programme ever screened in primetime", but it seems as if the American version of the diving talent show has been a ratings hit! Is it all down to their big star appeal?

ABC’s “celebrity” diving competition, Splash, premiered on Tuesday night to 8.8 million total viewers and a 2.6 demo rating, making it their highest-rated reality-TV launch in more than two years.

Not to mention the best-rated reality TV debut since The X Factor way back in 2011.

Oh yes, you read that right - and we're completely and utterly serious. So why is Splash USA proving such a ratings hit overseas?

The Splash USA cast (supplied by WENN.com)

Many TV critics think it has something to do with the all-star power of the celebrity contestants - but, to be honest, they seem to be of the same star status as the Splash UK contestants. Think former The Girls Next Door star Kendra Wilkinson, comedian Louie Anderson and Chelsea Handler's sidekick Chuy Bravo, to name but three.

Then there's Baywatch actress Nicole Eggert (who obviously knows how to work a swimsuit!), Nickelodeon star Drake Bell (of Drake And Josh fame), NFL star Ndamukong Suh, Miss Alabama USA Katherine Webb (another gorgeous bikini candidate) and The Cosby Show's Keshia Knight Pulliam.

Extreme skier Rory Bushfield and pro basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar complete the lineup.

Katherine Webb prepares to dive into Splash USA (supplied by WENN.com)

So maybe it's Splash USA presenters Joey Lawrence and Charissa Thompson - both of whom are reportedly hilarious - Joey especially. There's also diving icon Greg Louganis in the role of coach and judges US gold medallist David Boudia (who looks like he was carved out of muscles) and USA Dive Team director Steve Foley.

Or maybe it's the fact that the set is slightly more glamorous than the British one, the costumes a tad more sparkly, the tone a bit more lighthearted (there's even a bellyflop montage!) and more geared towards making us laugh - think red carpet-themed synchronised swimming-slash-diving performance!

Whatever the reason, Splash USA has opened to pretty awesome ratings - albeit a mixed response from viewers on Twitter.

@jenniferweiner: "Turns out watching a 65-year-old, 7-foot-tall former NBA star in a shiny unitard hit the water with his face is surprisingly awesome.#splash"

@kelter1: "It's funny, just the other day I was saying there's a real lack of diving shows with D-List celebrities. #Splash" ‏

@strommelissa: "I'm really embarrassed that America has reached a point where we're entertained by semi-celebrities jumping into pools. #Splash"

The execution of Splash USA seems slicker than the British version - but we imagine that, just like the ITV diving talent show, the ratings will slowly bellyflop as people get tired of the concept...

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