ABC's 'Middle' up; CBS' 'Minds' finale solid

Fox dominated its two hours Wednesday with an expanded installment of ”American Idol,” while ABC’s ”The Middle” was on the rise kicking off the night and NBC’s ”Law and Order: SVU” was the top series at 10.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, ”American Idol” averaged a big 7.2 rating/19 share in adults 18-49 and 23.0 million viewers overall from 8 to 10 p.m., beating its combined ABC-CBS-NBC competition by 3 shares in both adults 18-49 and 25-54. ”Idol,” which wraps its season next Wednesday, was up both week-to-week and year-to-year.

Elsewhere, ABC opened nicely with ”The Middle” (2.4/7 in 18-49, 7.7 million viewers overall), which matched its best demo score in the past 14 weeks and placed second to ”Idol.” Following a ”Middle” repeat at 8:30 p.m. (1.8/5 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall), ”Modern Family” earned a 4.0/10 in 18-49 and 10.1 million viewers overall in the 9 o’clock half-hour , down a bit vs. last week , and ”Cougar Town” (2.0/5 in 18-49, 5.4 million viewers overall) also dropped opposite the longer-than-usual ”Idol.” Closing out the night were a pair of original episodes of ”Happy Endings” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 3.8 million viewers overall at 10 p.m. and 1.3/3 in 18-49, 3.1 million viewers overall), down a bit week to week.

CBS, whose ”Survivor” wrapped last week, was weak to start the night with a ”Criminal Minds” repeat in its place (1.4/4 in 18-49, 6.3 million viewers overall), followed by the season finale of the drama at 9 (3.3/8 in 18-49, 12.5 million viewers overall) , up vs. last year’s finale, which aired opposite the ”Idol” finale on Fox. At 10, the now-canceled ”Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior” averaged a 2.0/5 in 18-49 and 8.4 million viewers overall).

NBC opened with episodes of ”Minute to Win It” at 8 (1.0/3 in 18-49, 3.5 million viewers overall for an original) and 9 (0.9/2 in 18-49, 2.9 million viewers overall) before surging to the broadcast lead at 10 p.m. with the season finale of ”Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” (2.0/5 in 18-49, 8.4 million viewers overall), which posted its best score since early February.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 7.2/19; ABC and CBS, 2.2/6; NBC, 1.6/4; Univision, 1.5/4; CW, 0.7/2.

In total viewers: Fox, 23.0 million; CBS, 9.1 million; ABC, 6.0 million; NBC, 5.0 million; Univision, 3.4 million; CW, 1.5 million.

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