24.2 million viewers is improvement in year-ago comparison

A revitalized “American Idol” crushed its competitors Wednesday night, leading Fox to an easy win in the primetime ratings race.

In the first night where final competitors sang against one another, “Idol” earned a 8.0 rating/22 share in the 18-49 demo, and a whopping 24.2 million viewers. The other Big Three networks combined didn’t come close to matching Fox’s impressive rating. To be fair, however, Fox only has to program two hours each night, while ABC, CBS and NBC must fill the 10 p.m. timeslot.

The second hour of “Idol” drew 25.3 million, improving on the first hour by 2.3 million. Compared to a year ago on the first night of competition, “Idol” was up 6% in total viewers.

Among the rest of the lot, “Survivor: Redemption Island” (3.2/9, 10.9m) was best, and that was strong enough to help CBS earn a second-place finish. A new episode of 10 p.m. spinoff “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior” (2.2/6, 9m) was down from a week ago but good enough to best a repeat of its predecessor, “Criminal Minds” (1.8/5, 8.2m), which aired an hour earlier.

The first 90 minutes of ABC’s offerings were all repeats — two episodes of “The Middle” followed by the network-best “Modern Family (2.3/6, 6.1m). Matthew Perry starrer “Mr. Sunshine” (1.8/5, 4.7m) fell significantly from a week ago in both its rating and total viewers, but it was without an original “Modern Family” lead-in.

Shonda Rhimes’ midseason entry “Off the Map” (1.4/4, 4.3m) doesn’t seem to have much of a future as it continues to slip. Drama lost about 600,000 in week-to-week comparisons and was least-watched program at 10 p.m.

The 10 o’clock slot was the evening’s highlight for NBC. “Law & Order” SVU” (1.4/4, 5.2m) was the Peacock’s highest-rated program, but that was a low bar considering the paltry performances of both “Minute to Win It” (1.0/3, 3.4m) and a repeat of “Law & Order: SVU” (0.9/2, 3.2m) at 9 p.m.

CW’s “America’s Next Top Model” (1.1/3, 2.3m) had its most-watched episode of the current cycle, while “Shedding for the Wedding” (0.5/1, 1m) was on par from a week ago.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 8.0/22; CBS, 2.4/7; ABC, 1.6/5; NBC; Univision, 1.5/4; 1.1/3; CW, 0.8/2.

In total viewers: Fox, 24.2 million; CBS, 9.4 million; ABC, 4.9 million; NBC, 4.0 million; Univision, 3.9 million; CW, 1.6 million.

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