MTV's first official spin-off of "Jersey Shore" -- "The Pauly D Project" -- couldn't match the mega-ratings of the mothership.

2.9 million viewers tuned in for the solo antics of DJ Pauly D and his hometown Rhode Island buddies, compared to 4.99 million for the "Jersey" fifth season finale on March 15 (and 7.6 million for the season premiere back in January). But that's still a solid showing for a series premiere on the network, and proof that Jersey-mania isn't completely dead...yet.

Even bigger numbers came from the return of "Punk'd," which drew 3.2 million viewers at 10 p.m. It's possible that interest was inflated by a starry premiere featuring Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus. The show's performance next week -- when it features celebrity guest host Bam Margera punking "Teen Wolf's" Tyler Posey, Tyler the Creator and another "Jersey" boy, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro -- will be more telling.

Both "Punk'd" and "Pauly" earned a 2.7 in MTV's target 12-34 demo, making them the highest rated cable series of the day in the demo, and bigger demo draws than anything on the broadcast networks except "The Big Bang Theory" and "American Idol."