Fox special tops night despite drop in ratings

Show Network Rating (18-49) Share Viewers (millions)
1. American Idol: Idol Gives Back FOX 5.8 17 18.4
2. Law and Order: SVU NBC 2.7 8 8.7
3. Modern Family ABC 2.2 6 5.5
4. Modern Family (9:30 p.m.) ABC 2.0 5 4.9
5. Criminal Minds CBS 1.8 5 8.1
6. Accidentally on Purpose CBS 1.6 5 5.3
7. The Middle ABC 1.6 5 4.8
8. New Adventures of Old Christine CBS 1.5 5 5.3
9. Law and Order: SVU (9 p.m. ) NBC 1.4 4 5.3
10. The Middle (8 p.m.) ABC 1.4 4 4.4

Fox’s “American Idol Gives Back” special wasn’t up to the show’s typically high ratings standards but dominated its ratings competitors on Wednesday, a night that saw the top shows on ABC and CBS air repeats.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, the fund-raiser special “American Idol: Idol Gives Back,” which also featured the week’s elimination from the talent contest, averaged a 5.8 rating/17 share in adults 18-49 and 18.4 million viewers overall from 8 to 10 p.m., though its numbers could change meaningfully since the telecast extended past 10:20. After taking last year off due to the recession, “Idol Gives Back” looks to have come in about 12%-15% below its last outing in 2008, but up some in total viewers.

Compared to the previous week’s regular results show, “Idol” was down about 15%.

It was a quiet night elsewhere, with NBC placing second thanks to a victory at 10 p.m. with an original episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (2.7/8 in 18-49, 8.7 million viewers overall). The net did little opening the night with an original episode of rookie drama “Mercy” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 5.0 million viewers overall) or at 9 p.m. with a repeat of “Law & Order: SVU” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 5.3 million viewers overall).

CBS opened with low scores for its firstrun comedies “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 5.3 million viewers overall) and “Accidentally on Purpose” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 5.3 million viewers overall), and the net stayed fairly quiet from 9 to 11 p.m. with encores of “Criminal Minds” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 8.1 million viewers overall) and “CSI: NY” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall).

ABC aired an hour of repeats of each of its Wednesday comedies, starting with “The Middle” at 8 (1.4/4 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall) and 8:30 (1.6/5 in 18-49, 4.8 million viewers overall) and “Modern Family” at 9 (2.2/6 in 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall) and 9:30 (2.0/5 in 18-49, 4.9 million viewers overall). And closing things out was the lower-rated “Cougar Town” at 10 (1.3/4 in 18-49, 3.2 million viewers overall) and 10:30 (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.1 million viewers overall).

CW’s “America’s Next Top Model” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.0 million viewers overall) was up slightly week to week in placing a distant second to “Idol” in adults 18-34 (1.4/5).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 5.8/17; NBC, 1.8/5; ABC, 1.6/5; CBS, 1.6/5; Univision, 1.3/4; CW, 0.9/3.

In total viewers: Fox, 18.4 million; CBS, 6.8 million; NBC, 6.3 million; ABC, 4.3 million; Univision, 3.4 million; CW, 1.9 million.

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