Talent show falls to historic low levels

As it nears the end of its ninth season, Fox’s “American Idol” is experiencing some ratings turbulence. While it and “Glee” combined to give Fox the night in all key measures, the talent show fell to historically low levels.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, Tuesday’s “American Idol” performance hour averaged a 6.0 rating/18 share in adults 18-49 and 17.1 million viewers overall, making it still easily the night’s top program but resulting in the show’s lowest numbers since its first season in the summer of 2002. “Idol” still nearly doubled its closest competitor in 18-49 (CBS’ “NCIS”), but there had been times in recent years when the show defeated or roughly matched its combined ABC-CBS-NBC competition; on this night, the trio combined to easily beat out “Idol” (8.3 to 6.0).

Also for Fox, “Glee” continues to perform well (4.9/13 in 18-49, 11.9 million viewers overall), down vs. its recent deliveries but still expected to stand as the week’s No. 1 program among young adults.

Elsewhere, NBC was back on the upswing with its combo of a two-hour “The Biggest Loser” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 8.3 million viewers overall) and “Parenthood” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 6.0 million viewers overall), with the latter winning its hour in 18-49 for the sixth time in the last seven weeks.

At CBS, which nearly caught Fox for the night’s lead in total viewers, “NCIS” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 14.8 million viewers overall) and “NCIS: Los Angeles” (2.8/7 in 18-49, 14.2 million viewers overall) dropped by about 10% week to week, but 10 p.m. rookie “The Good Wife” edged up (2.4/7 in 18-49, 12.9 million viewers overall), winning again in adults 25-54 (3.6/9).

ABC opened with the “Dancing With the Stars” results show (2.4/7 in 18-49, 11.9 million viewers overall), which ran fourth in 18-49 but continues to perform better than the net has in past years opposite “Idol” — and is perhaps contributing to the music talent show’s declines. “Lost” (3.9/10 in 18-49, 9.5 million viewers overall) picked up a bit of steam as it returned from the previous week’s repeat and heading into the show’s final hours, placing second to “Glee” in 18-49.

And “V” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 5.6 million viewers overall) was up week to week and continues to perform perhaps well enough to warrant a renewal. The show has been a big gainer in DVR playback, on average gaining eight tenths of a ratings point and 1.8 million total viewers from its originally reported same-night numbers.

CW aired an original “90210” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.6 million viewers overall) and a repeat “Life Unexpected” (0.4/1 in 18-49, 1.1 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 5.5/15; NBC, 3.0/8; ABC, 2.8/8; CBS, 2.8/8; CW, 0.5/2.

In total viewers: Fox, 14.5 million; CBS, 14.0 million; ABC, 9.0 million; NBC, 7.5 million; CW, 1.3 million.

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