Meanwhile, 'Modern Family' thrives on ABC

In a potentially good sign for upcoming kudocasts, “The People’s Choice Awards” on CBS hit a three-year ratings high Wednesday.

And as was the case when both the “CMA Awards” and “American Music Awards” showed a spike in November thanks in part to Taylor Swift, it was young adults that powered the gains. This time you can credit both Swift and another Taylor — Lautner and his pic “Twilight” — for recruiting new viewers to the show.

Elsewhere on the last “American Idol”-free Wednesday of the season, ABC’s comedy block and NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” looked good. Not so hot were the return of the Peacock’s “Mercy” and the new-night debut of the Alphabet’s “Ugly Betty.”

Looking at the Nielsens, the 36th annual “People’s Choice Awards” averaged a 3.4 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 and 10.81 million viewers overall, rising 13% in the demo vs. last year for its best showing since 2007.

It also hit a four-year high in both adults 18-34 (2.9/9, up 32% from last year) and teens 12-17 (1.6/6, up 45%).

Awards shows tend to surge and sag as a group, and the recent rises could be good news this month for the Golden Globes on NBC and Grammys on CBS. And having “Avatar” in the mix could prove to be a ratings elixir for the Oscars on ABC.

Also on Wednesday for CBS, which prevailed in 18-49, 25-54 and total viewers, 8 p.m. spec “I Get That a Lot” won its timeslot (2.9/8, 8.31m). Though down from the surprisingly strong numbers for its first hour last April, “Get That” performed better than the net’s average with its regular comedies in the time period this season.

ABC’s “Modern Family” returned with its first new seg in a month and was the night’s top show in demos (4.1/11 in 18-49, 10.22m) with best-since-preem scores in 18-49 and total viewers and best-yet results in male demos.

Also for the net, “The Middle” matched a series high at 8:30 p.m. with the second of two original episodes on the night (2.6/7, 8.07m), and “Cougar Town” finished in a virtual tie for first place at 9:30 p.m. (3.3/8, 7.88m) with its best showing since October.

It was slower going at 10 p.m. for “Ugly Betty” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 5.02m), which barely edged out NBC’s “The Jay Leno Show” (1.5/4, 5.11m). Although a sluggish start, “Betty” performed better than it has on lightly watched Friday and improved upon the net’s recent showing in the 10 p.m. Wednesday hour with “Eastwick.”

At NBC, rookie nurses drama “Mercy” placed third at 8 p.m. (1.7/5 in 18-49, 7.10m), but “Law & Order: SVU,” taking advantage of a preemption for rival and timeslot leader “Criminal Minds” on CBS, hit a season high at 9 p.m. (3.1/8, 10.59m).

Fox went with a pair of “Glee” repeats that averaged a 1.3/4 in 18-49 and 3.36 million viewers overall. Next week, “American Idol” makes its Wednesday premiere with a 90-minute episode.

Syfy’s “Ghost Hunters International” was Wednesday’s top demo draw in cable (1.2/3 in 18-49, 2.63m).

On Tuesday, Oxygen’s “Bad Girls Club” delivered the network’s best-ever numbers in adults 18-49 (1.24 million), adults 18-34 (960,000) and total viewers (1.82 million) — becoming the fifth consecutive telecast of the show to post record-breaking Nielsens.

And final nationals for last week in cable show both E! and LMN scoring their best weeks ever.

E!, whose “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” continues to generate impressive numbers, averaged 520,000 viewers in total-day for the week of Dec. 28-Jan. 3. And in primetime, it ranked among the top 15 networks in adults 18-49 and the top 10 in adults 18-34.

Lifetime Movie Network claimed the most-watched week in its 11-year history in both total day (654,000 viewers) and primetime (1.02 million). The network, which scored with a batch of original movies in 2009, bows its first of 2010 on Jan. 17 when Julia Ormond stars in “The Wronged Man,” from executive producer Gale Anne Hurd.

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