Walt Disney Co's made-for-TV movie High School Musical 2 drew over 17 million mainly pre-teen viewers, making it the most watched U.S. TV telecast ever for the 6 to 11 age group, Disney said on Monday.

The highly-anticipated sequel to Disney's surprise hit musical of 2006 attracted more than 17.2 million viewers to the Disney Channel cable network for the world TV debut on Friday.

Many children gathered at parties to watch the escapades of the singing and dancing teenagers from the fictional East High School, making the audience estimate uncertain.

We'll really never know for sure how many kids and adults really watched because of all the viewing parties, said Disney ABC Networks spokesman Kevin Brockman.

The success of the first High School Musical, described as a modern version of Grease, took Disney by surprise. It was watched by more than 200 million viewers in 100 countries and the soundtrack became the best-selling album of 2006.

This time the company was fully prepared, with High School Musical 2 expected to eclipse the success of its predecessor.

Apart from DVDs and CDs, the company plans to have more licensed products in stores by year's end ranging from clothing to books to video games.

A North American stage show adapted from the movie opened on August 1 and an ice-skating show launches next month.

The sequel reunited the original cast but in a more expensive, glitzier production set at a posh country club as the stage for the twists and turns in the romance of a boy basketball star and a brainy science whiz.

Disney already has plans for a third movie, set in a haunted house, which will open in theaters next year.