ABC dominates with its best night of season

Most of the competition took a hit Wednesday as ABC preempted its strong entertainment lineup for the Country Music Assn. Awards, which gave it its biggest night of the fall. NBC’s ”Harry’s Law” was the only series to edge up week to week.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, the ”45th Annual CMA Awards” averaged a big 4.8 rating/12 share in adults 18-49 and 16.3 million viewers overall from 8 to 11, peaking with a 5.0 demo score at 9:30. The kudocast was up a tick year to year and delivered the highest nightly average for any night on ABC this fall , and the second best for any entertainment lineup on any network this season (behind only the night of Ashton Kutcher’s bow on CBS’ ”Two and a Half Men”).

The show hit a seven-year high in men 18-34 (3.0/9) and ABC won the night across the board: both men and women in 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54 as well as teens and 50-plus.

Fox was a solid second on the night among 18-49ers with its two-hour ”The X Factor” (3.7/10 in 18-49, 10.1 million viewers overall), which peaked in the 9:30 half-hour with a 4.0 demo rating. Though expected to come in down about 5% week to week, the music contest provided the net with substantial time-period improvement , more than 40% better than two hours of ”Hell’s Kitchen” opposite the CMAs a year ago (2.6/7).

As is usually the case, CBS was hit hardest by the CMA Awards, as ”Survivor” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 10.6 million viewers overall) was down more than 10% from last week’s season how. Also, crime dramas ”Criminal Minds” (3.4/8 in 18-49, 11.3 million viewers overall) and ”CSI” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 10.1 million viewers overall) were down some, with the former ranking third in 18-49 and the latter coming in second.

NBC’s ”Up All Night” had a chance to shine as it didn’t face any comedy competition for the first time, but it merely held steady week to week (1.8/5 in 18-49, 4.8 million viewers overall); still, it fared considerably better in the 8 o’clock half-hour than last year’s ”Undercovers” did opposite the CMA Awards (1.2/4). Following an ”Up All Night” repeat at 8:30 (1.2/3 in 18-49, 3.5 million viewers overall), second-year drama ”Harry’s Law” (1.3/3 in 18-49, 7.1 million viewers overall) matched a season high in the demo, likely benefiting from the absence of ”Modern Family.” And at 10, ”Law and Order: SVU” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 6.6 million viewers overall) remained in third place, down a tick week to week to perhaps its lowest firstrun score to date.

At CW, ”America’s Next Top Model” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.6 million viewers overall) was down a bit week to week.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 4.8/12; Fox, 3.7/10; CBS, 3.0/8; Univision, 1.7/4; NBC, 1.5/4; CW, 0.6/2.

In total viewers: ABC, 16.3 million; CBS, 10.7 million; Fox, 10.1 million; NBC, 5.9 million; Univision, 4.0 million; CW, 1.3 million.

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