‘American Idol’ crushes Wednesday competition

Fox series nabs 20.5 million viewers

Even though it declined more than 10% week to week, Fox’s “American Idol” dominated Wednesday’s primetime ratings scene on a night that also saw good showings by ABC’s “Modern Family,” CBS’ “Criminal Minds” and NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU.”

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, “American Idol” (7.5 rating/20 share in adults 18-49, 20.5 million viewers overall) crushed the competition in the 9 o’clock hour, although it couldn’t quite match the combined delivery of the other major nets — an impressive feat that it had consistently achieved this season. And leading into “Idol” was the returning “Human Target” (2.4/7 in 18-49, 7.8 million viewers overall), which improved over its last original episode and won the hour in 18-49 and all male demos.

ABC opened with an original episode of “Scrubs” airing on a special night (1.5/5 in 18-49, 4.3 million viewers overall) and then grew nicely first at 8:30 with “The Middle” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 6.3 million viewers overall) and then at 9 with “Modern Family” (3.7/10 in 18-49, 8.9 million viewers overall), which was again the night’s top scripted program in 18-49. And at 9:30, “Cougar Town” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 6.2 million viewers overall), like its regular lead-in laffers, was up week to week. “Ugly Betty” wrapped things for the Alphabet net (1.5/4 in 18-49, 4.1 million viewers overall), performing better than last week’s “Oprah Winfrey Oscar Special” in the timeslot.

At CBS, “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 7.9 million viewers overall) was on the high side opening the night, finishing a tick out of the 18-49 lead while winning in 25-54. It was followed by “Gary Unmarried” (2.2/7 in 18-49, 6.8 million viewers overall), which was competitive in most demo categories. “Criminal Minds” (3.4/9 in 18-49, 13.1 million viewers overall) ran second to “Idol” in the 9 o’clock hour, but the net lost some steam at 10 p.m. with “CSI: NY” (2.6/8 in 18-49, 11.0 million viewers overall) noticeably affected by stronger crime-drama competition at NBC from “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

NBC started slowly with “Mercy” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 6.3 million viewers overall) and a repeat of “Law & Order: SVU” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 5.4 million viewers overall) before moving into a share of the demo lead at 10 p.m. with the firstrun “SVU” (2.6/8 in 18-49, 8.6 million viewers overall). “SVU” led outright in 18-49 at 10:30 p.m. over “CSI: NY” on CBS and pulled to within a tick of the Eye drama in 25-54.

CW’s “America’s Next Top Model” returned to solid scores (1.6/5 in 18-49, 3.8 million viewers overall), up a tick in several key demos vs. its fall-season edition. Auds didn’t stick around for new series “High Society,” though, which bowed to weak numbers (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.4 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 4.9/14; CBS, 2.7/8; ABC, 2.2/6; NBC, 1.8/5; CW, 1.3/4; Univision, 1.2/3.

In total viewers: Fox, 14.2 million; CBS, 10.5 million; NBC, 6.8 million; ABC, 5.7 million; CW, 3.2 million; Univision, 3.2 million.

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