CBS' 'Survivor' opens low, Fox's 'Idol' down but tops night

“Survivor” has been one of the most enduring series of the past decade, but its 26th edition kicked off sluggishly for CBS on Wednesday, a night won by Fox and “American Idol,” which itself was low.

Ratings for shows airing earlier in the evening seemed to be affected by the night’s lower-than-usual television usage, as the eve of Valentine’s Day is often as big a date night as Feb. 14 itself. ABC’s “The Middle” joined “Survivor” and “American Idol” in not performing up to standards.

According to Nielsen, television usage by adults 18-49 in the 8 o’clock hour was down 7% week-to-week and 12% year-to-year. More viewers came to the set as the night went on, but usage in the 9 p.m. hour was still off 4% from last week and 9% from last year.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “American Idol” averaged a 4.3 rating/12 share in adults 18-49 and 13.4 million viewers overall from 8 to 10 p.m., starting low (3.4/11 at 8 p.m.) but finishing strong (4.8/13).

Though it won every half-hour in demos and total viewers, this represented the show’s lowest Wednesday scores since its first season in the summer of 2002.

But, despite the additional reality competition from “Survivor” and the holiday distractions, “Idol” came within 7% of its week-ago demo score.

Elsewhere, the 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Caramoan” averaged a 2.4/7 in 18-49 and 9 million viewers overall — the first time the show has premiered to under a 3 demo rating and/or 10 million total viewers. Its winter/spring edition a year ago started out with a 3.1/9 in 18-49 and 10.8 million viewers overall, and its most recent edition this past fall opened with a 3.2 demo score and 11.4 million.

CBS followed with a special repeat of “The Big Bang Theory” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 5.8 million viewers overall) and “CSI” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 9.1 million viewers overall), which was down about 12% from its “CSI: NY” crossover episode of last week.

At ABC, “The Middle” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 7.6 million viewers overall) was down 17% week to week to a series low, but “The Neighbors” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall) and “Modern Family” (3.8/10 in 18-49, 10.0 million viewers overall) were on par with last week; “Modern” again stood as Wednesday’s top-rated scripted program in demos.

And closing out the night for ABC, “Suburgatory” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 6.1 million viewers overall) and “Nashville” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 5.7 million viewers overall) were up a bit from last week.

NBC started weakly with “Whitney” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.6 million viewers overall) and “Guys With Kids” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.9 million viewers overall) before rebounding some with “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 6.3 million viewers overall), which was up a tick week to week and likely benefited from a lack of CBS crime drama competition. And at 10, “Chicago Fire” held steady (1.9/5 in 18-49, 6.6 million viewers overall), finishing just a couple of ticks behind “CSI” for the hour’s 18-49 lead.

CW had its best Wednesday since mid-November in its target adults 18-34 demo (1.0/3), as rookie “Arrow” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 3.3 million viewers overall) and vet “Supernatural” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.5 million viewers overall) — both of which were recently renewed for another season — were on the rise. “Arrow,” which tied NBC’s comedies in adults 18-49, matched its high in men 18-34 (1.2/5) while “Supernatural” had its best score in the demo this season (1.1/4).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 4.3/12; ABC, 2.2/6; CBS, 2.1/6; NBC, 1.5/4; Univision, 1.4/4; CW, 1.1/3.

In total viewers: Fox, 13.4 million; CBS, 8.5 million; ABC, 6.8 million; NBC, 5.4 million; Univision, 3.5 million; CW, 2.9 million.

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