'Grey's' Tops Atypical Thursday 'Idol' Declines

In its 12th season, the Fox music competition falls below a 3 demo rating for the first time

ABC, with good showings by dramas “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” tied with Fox for the demo lead on Thursday but “American Idol” continues to sag at the midway point of its 12th season. CBS, which usually wins the night, lagged this week with its annual coverage of college basketball’s March Madness.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, ABC kicked off its night with the season premiere of “Wife Swap” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 5.0 million viewers overall), which certainly performed better than previous slot occupant “Zero Hour” even if it was a bit below the recent three-week average for celebrity version of the show on Tuesday. “Wife Swap” outperformed all episodes from its most recent season for the show’s strongest numbers for a non-celebrity episode since April 2009.

“Grey’s Anatomy” (2.9/8 in 18-49, 9.1 million viewers overall) bounced back from its series low of last week to edge out “American Idol” as Thursday’s No. 1 show in 18-49. And at 10, the first new episode in four weeks of “Scandal” won the 10 o’clock hour (2.7/8 in 18-49, 8.6 million viewers overall), matching the show’s most recent original.

At Fox, the “American Idol” results show averaged a 2.8/9 in adults 18-49 and 11.7 million viewers overall in the 8 o’clock hour, off somewhere in the 5-10% range in 18-49 vs. last week (depending on how it’s adjusted in the nationals) and first time any regular installment of the music contest has delivered a sub-3 demo rating; in total viewers, it edged up from last week. This week’s demo decline is surprising given that CBS wasn’t airing its strong comedy block (“The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men”) in the hour. Despite the show’s falloff, “Idol” remains attractive to advertisers.

See Also: ‘Idol’ Advertisers Likely to Stay Put

Following “Idol,” “Glee” delivered average numbers (2.0/5 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall), placing second to “Grey’s Anatomy” in the 18-49 prelims for the 9 o’clock hour.

Reliable ratings weren’t available for college hoops action on  CBS, though the net’s preliminary averages for the night were just a bit below last year. Overall for the day, CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ exclusive second-round coverage across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV averaged a 5.8 overnight household rating/14 share — up 4% from last year for the highest rating for the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament in 22 years.

It was another night of low numbers across the board for NBC, which opened with “Community” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 3.0 million viewers overall), which merely matched last week’s score despite no “Big Bang” competition, and a special original episode of “1600 Penn” did very little at 8:30 p.m. (0.9/3 in 18-49, 2.5 million viewers overall). Following a repeat of “The Office” (0.9/2 in 18-49, 2.3 million viewers overall), “1600 Penn” averaged a 0.8/2 in 18-49 and 2.3 million viewers overall in its regular timeslot, and the night was capped by a repeat of “Law & Order: SVU” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall).

NBC will hope to improve its standing on the night in April when original episodes of “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” lead into new drama “Hannibal.”

CW had a good night, as both “The Vampire Diaries” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 2.6 million viewers overall) and “Beauty and the Beast” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.8 million viewers overall) were up from last week. “Vampire” beat NBC’s comedies in 18-49, and “Beauty” drew its largest overall audience in eight weeks.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC and Fox, 2.4/7; Univision, 1.7/5; CBS, 1.6/5; NBC, 1.0/3; CW, 0.9/3.
In total viewers: Fox, 8.8 million; ABC, 7.6 million; CBS, 4.7 million; Univision, 3.9 million; NBC, 3.1 million; CW, 2.2 million.

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