Both hit lows, but the ABC comedy is up vs. last year

”American Idol” comfortably won the Wednesday ratings race for Fox while third-place ABC, led by top scripted show ”Modern Family,” was the only network up vs. last year. Runner-up CBS closed the night a winner with ”CSI.”

Both ”Idol” and ”Modern” were at season-low levels in the prelims, but could be rounded up to match their lows in the nationals. And based on full-week DVR playback trends, it’s likely that the ABC comedy will emerge as the night’s No. 1 show in 18-49.

According to Nielsen, ”American Idol” averaged a 4.6 rating/13 share in adults 18-49 and 16.3 million viewers overall, winning its 8-10 p.m. block by 5 shares in the demo over CBS but down 30% from the comparable night a year ago. Fox noted this morning that with Wednesday’s result, ”Idol” is expected to have moved ahead of NBC’s ”The Voice” to rank as the season’s No. 1 entertainment series; ”Voice” had the early advantage but ”Idol” has consistently been the higher-rated show over the last couple of months.

Elsewhere, CBS was pretty solid as usual, kicking off with ”Survivor” (2.5/8 in 18-49, 9.2 million viewers overall), which ran second for the 8 o’clock hour but was down nearly 20% from last year. It was followed by ”Criminal Minds” (3.0/8 in 18-49, 11.4 million viewers overall), a smidge behind the ABC comedies for third in 18-49 and second in 25-54 and total viewers, and 10 p.m. winner ”CSI” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 9.7 million viewers overall). Both crime dramas were roughly on par with their most recent originals and the 9-11 p.m. block’s showing on the opening Wednesday of May last year (with ”Criminal Minds” and spinoff ”Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior”).

At ABC, ”The Middle” (2.0/7 in 18-49, 6.6 million viewers overall) was flat with its performance of a year ago, and 8:30 p.m. rookie ”Surburgatory” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 5.8 million viewers overall) was up 25% over last year’s ”Better With You.” ”Modern Family” followed at 9 p.m. with a 4.0/11 in 18-49 and 10.0 million viewers overall, down a tick from its most original but up a smidge vs. the same night last year. Also up slightly year to year in the 9:30 p.m. slot (vs. ”Cougar Town last year) was ”Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23” (2.4/6 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall), which continues to retain a little more of its lead-in than ”Happy Endings” earlier this season. And at 10, ”Revenge” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 7.1 million viewers overall) matched last week’s score, placing second to ”CSI” in all broad categories and pulling ahead in 18-34. The first-year soap was up about 35% over a pair of ”Happy Endings” episodes in the 10 o’clock hour a year ago.

NBC aired two episodes of ”Betty White’s Off Their Rockers,” with the first down week to week (1.3/4 in 18-49, 5.0 million viewers overall) and the second (1.4/4 in 18-49, 4.9 million viewers overall) a nice improvement over recent timeslot occupant ”Best Friends Forever.” That momentum may have helped ”Rock Center” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall) as the newsmag grew for a third straight week to hit a seven-week high. And the net was stronger at 10 p.m. with ”Law and Order: SVU” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 6.5 million viewers overall ), which was at a three-month high, but that still left it well behind its delivery of a year ago.

CW’s special repeat of new Tuesday drama ”The L.A. Complex” averaged a 0.3/1 in 18-49 and about 850,000 viewers overall, holding steady in the demo but gaining total viewers. And at 9, ”America’s Next Top Model” (0.4/1 in 18-49, 1.0 million viewers overall) settled for about half of what it did on the opening Wednesday of last year.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 4.6/13; CBS, 2.6/7; ABC, 2.4/7; NBC, 1.4/4; Univision, 1.3/4; CW, 0.3/1.

In total viewers: Fox, 16.3 million; CBS, 10.1 million; ABC, 7.1 million; NBC, 5.2 million; Univision, 3.4 million; CW, 1.0 million.

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