Comedy performs poorly; 'Idol' wins night for Fox

Despite declines week to week, Fox cruised to victory in key demos Wednesday behind a two-hour ”American Idol” while NBC’s new comedy ”Bent” opened to weak numbers in the night’s middle hour.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, ”American Idol” (4.9 rating/14 share in adults 18-49, 16.6 million viewers overall) was down 9% week to week but still comfortably led each half-hour in demos and also lifted the net to an easy victory for the night in total viewers. ”Idol” maintained its 14 share throughout the night, growing in rating from a 4.2 at 8 p.m. to a 5.4 at 9:30. Fox has now won 10 consecutive Wednesdays in 18-49, this week beating the combined deliveries of ABC and CBS from 8 to 10.

Elsewhere, NBC saw opening-hour comedies ”Whitney” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall) and ”Are You There, Chelsea?” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.5 million viewers overall) take advantage of repeat ABC comedy competition to bounce back from last week’s lows. But any good vibes NBC had early evaporated at 9 o’clock with the debut of ”Bent,” which aired back-to-back episodes (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.8 million viewers overall at 9 p.m. and 0.9/2 in 18-49, 2.4 million viewers overall at 9:30 p.m.); while drawing more young adults than recent episodes of ”Rock Center” in the timeslot, it was a weak start nonetheless. And capping the night was another low-rated edition of newsmag ”Rock Center with Brian Williams” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 3.0 million viewers overall).

CBS had an unusual night as bookends ”Survivor” (2.7/8 in 18-49, 10.2 million viewers overall) and ”CSI” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 11.2 million viewers overall) dropped a few ticks week to week even though middle-hour drama ”Criminal Minds” (3.2/8 in 18-49, 11.9 million viewers overall) grew by about the same amount. The Eye finished second in all categories, with ”CSI” winning easily at 10.

ABC did respectably with repeats of ”The Middle” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 4.9 million viewers overall), ”Suburgatory” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall) and ”Modern Family” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 5.6 million viewers overall), followed by an original ”Happy Endings” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 4.1 million viewers overall). And at 10, the net gained more sampling for new Thursday drama ”Missing” by airing a repeat of last week’s pilot episode (1.3/3 in 18-49, 5.0 million viewers overall).

At CW, ”One Tree Hill” was down a bit week to week (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.4 million viewers overall) while ”America’s Next Top Model” edged up (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.3 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 4.9/14; CBS, 2.8/8; ABC and Univision, 1.5/4; NBC, 1.0/3; CW, 0.6/2.

In total viewers: Fox, 16.6 million; CBS, 11.1 million; ABC, 4.9 million; Univision, 3.6 million; NBC, 3.2 million; CW, 1.4 million.

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