ABC's 'Modern Family' tops in demos; NBC's 'Take' tumbles

On a night with some special programming on ABC and NBC, CBS emerged on top in key demos behind regulars “Survivor,” “Criminal Minds” and “CSI.” It was slow going, meanwhile, for the third night of NBC gameshow “Take It All.”

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, the season’s penultimate episode of “Survivor” led the 8 o’clock hour in all key categories (2.8/8 in 18-49, 10.2 million viewers overall) and was in line with last week; the show wraps its 25th edition on Sunday. The reality vet was followed by a good showing at 9 p.m. for “Criminal Minds” (3.1/8 in 18-49, 11.9 million viewers overall), which was up a tick from last week and was a close second to ABC for the hour in both 18-49 and 25-54. And at 10, “CSI” was on the low side (2.2/6 in 18-49, 9.5 million viewers overall) but led its timeslot in 18-49, 25-54 and total viewers.

For the night, CBS moved up to first in 18-49 while winning for a fifth straight week in both adults 25-54 and total viewers, taking each hour in the latter.

Elsewhere, Fox came in a close second in 18-49 with its two-hour “The X Factor” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 7.7 million viewers overall), which was down a bit from last week. It was easily the top-rated network from 8 to 10 p.m. among persons 13-34 (2.4/8).

ABC saw lower-than-usual numbers for its comedies “The Middle” (2.2/7 in 18-49, 7.5 million viewers overall), “The Neighbors” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall) and “Modern Family” (4.2/11 in 18-49, 10.8 million viewers overall), though “Modern” was easily the night’s No. 1 show in 18-49 and 25-54 (4.9/12). And from 9:30 to 11 p.m., the special “Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2012″ (2.1/6 in 18-49, 7.7 million viewers overall) did OK — including gains from 10 to 11 p.m. over regular slot occupant “Nashville” — but was down from last year even though its 2011 edition had a repeat lead-in from “Modern Family.”

NBC opened the night with “Whitney” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.8 million viewers overall), which matched its season high and had its most competitive finish to date with competing comedy “The Middle” on ABC. The net then sagged with a repeat “Guys With Kids” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.7 million viewers overall) and gameshow “Take It All” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 3.4 million viewers overall), which drew half the number it had done in its first two nights with a much stronger lead-in from “The Voice.” And at 10, a weaker and less compatible lead-in hurt “Chicago Fire” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 4.8 million viewers overall), which ran a distant third among the broadcasters in the hour but was the only one of the Big Three networks to see its audience grow from 10 to 10:30.

CW’s “Arrow” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 3.1 million viewers overall) was down slightly week to week, and a repeat of last week’s CBS special “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” did a 0.7/2 in 18-49 and 1.6 million viewers overall, a little lower than last week’s original “Supernatural.”

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 2.7/7; Fox, 2.6/7; ABC, 2.4/7; Univision, 1.5/4; NBC, 1.2/3; CW, 0.8/2.

In total viewers: CBS, 10.5 million; ABC, 7.8 million; Fox, 7.7 million; NBC, 3.6 million; Univision, 3.6 million; CW, 2.4 million.

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