'Idol' on top, but ABC, CBS, NBC stand strong

Fox’s “American Idol” results show stood above the crowd on the opening Wednesday of May, a night that also saw good performances from ABC’s “Modern Family,” CBS’ “Criminal Minds,” NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” and CW’s “America’s Next Top Model.”

Fox led the night even though it basically threw in the towel in the leadoff hour with a repeat of “Lie to Me” (1.3 rating/4 share in adults 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall). Audiences then flocked to the net for “American Idol” (6.3/17 in 18-49, 19.1 million viewers overall), which was down week to week but performed better than its performance episode of the previous night. For the 9 o’clock hour, Fox performed about as well in 18-49 as the next top two nets (CBS and ABC) combined.

Second-place CBS opened with “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 6.4 million viewers overall), which led its soft half-hour in most categories, and a special off-night repeat of “The Big Bang Theory” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 6.2 million viewers overall), which was competitive at 8:30. The Eye’s top show of the night, “Criminal Minds” (3.3/9 in 18-49, 12.2 million viewers overall) placed second at 9, as did slumping 10 p.m. drama “CSI: NY” (2.2/7 in 18-49, 10.2 million viewers overall), which delivered what’s likely its lowest scores to date for an original episode.

ABC followed a repeat of “The Middle” at 8 (1.3/5 in 18-49, 4.9 million viewers overall) with the regular original episode at 8:30 (2.2/7 in 18-49, 6.8 million viewers overall), which led its mostly repeat competition in all key categories. The net then rose as usual at 9 o’clock with “Modern Family” (3.8/11 in 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall), which dropped off from the previous week’s especially strong performance but remained the night’s top scripted program among young adults. “Cougar Town” followed with a third-place finish at 9:30 (2.4/7 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall), and 10 p.m. drama “Happy Town” looked even more sad in its second week (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall) and may not get any more chances to prove itself during the sweep.

At NBC, a repeat of gameshow “Minute to Win It” (1.6/6 in 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall) was followed by the weakest scores yet for first-year drama “Mercy” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 4.0 million viewers overall). The Peacock then bounced back nicely at 10 with “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (2.6/8 in 18-49, 8.3 million viewers overall), winning its hour in key demos and opening up an especially wide advantage over “CSI: NY” in the 10:30 half-hour (2.8 to 2.1 in 18-49).

CW’s “America’s Next Top Model” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 3.4 million viewers overall) remained steady, winning its hour in the net’s core demos of adults and women 18-34. It was followed by the hourlong finale of “Fly Girls” (0.5/1 in 18-49, 1.0 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 3.8/12; CBS, 2.4/7; ABC, 2.0/6; NBC, 1.7/5; CW, 1.0/3.

In total viewers: Fox, 11.7 million; CBS, 9.6 million; NBC, 5.9 million; ABC, 5.8 million; CW, 2.2 million.

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