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Fox’s ‘American Idol’ Dips Some More on Night of Lower-Viewing Levels

It's edged out again as Thursday's top series in young-adult demo by ABC's 'Grey's Anatomy'

Fox’s “American Idol” still hasn’t found its bottom this season, as the music competition series dipped a bit more week to week with its Thursday results show, which was in a tight battle with ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” as the night’s top show among young adults.

The combination of higher-stakes college basketball action and the start of a holiday weekend certainly contributed to lower viewing for series airing on Thursday. Nielsen estimates that 5% fewer young adults were watching television in primetime than the previous Thursday, with the falloff an especially steep 7.7% in the night’s opening hour.

The absence of CBS juggernaut’ “The Big Bang Theory” — sidelined for a second straight week by college basketball — hasn’t helped “American Idol,” which was down slightly from last week to what appears to be another low (preliminary 2.7 rating/9 share in adults 18-49, 11.0 million viewers overall). Last week marked the first time a regular episode of the show had dropped below a 3 demo rating (2.8 in the prelims, 2.9 in the nationals), and this week’s result looks to be slightly lower. “Idol” did rule as Thursday’s most-watched series overall.

And Fox dropped off sharply from there as it rested “Glee” for a special hour of Tuesday comedy “Raising Hope” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 4.6 million viewers overall at 9 p.m. and 1.2/3 in 18-49, 3.5 million viewers overall at 9:30). “Hope,” wrapping its second season, was down some in adults 18-49 from its most recent original on Tuesday but drew more total viewers thanks to its broad “Idol” lead-in.

Preliminary estimates are murky for CBS, which aired coverage of the regional semifinals of the men’s NCAA college basketball tournament, but its primetime station average for the night (2.3/7 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall) was up more than 40% from last week when it had a lackluster slate of games. In the metered market overnights, Thursday’s action on CBS and TBS averaged a 7.3 household rating/14 share, up 4% from last year; and through Thursday, the entire tournament on CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV was averaging a 6.4/14, up 5%.

At ABC, “Wife Swap” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 4.3 million viewers overall) doesn’t appear to be the answer for the net’s troubled 8 o’clock slot, dropping 18% (0.3) from its debut of a week ago to remain a distant third among the Big Four. It was followed by “Grey’s Anatomy” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 8.8 million viewers overall), which was down a bit from last week but appears to have edged out “American Idol” as Thursday’s No. 1 series in 18-49 for a second straight time. And also off a smidge from last week was “Scandal” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 8.1 million viewers overall), which at present is tied with NBC’s “Revolution” as the week’s top-rated 10 p.m. scripted series.

Scandal” also built slightly on “Grey’s” in women 18-34 for the first time (3.5 to 3.4), though the preliminary “Scandal” average includes two minutes of “Grey’s,” so that feat may not hold in the nationals.

NBC was nothing if not consistent with its low-rated comedy block, as a repeat “Community” (0.7/3 in 18-49, 2.4 million viewers overall), a special 8:30 p.m. original episode of “1600 Penn” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.9 million viewers overall), a repeat of “The Office” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.7 million viewers overall) and the regular “1600 Penn” at 9:30 p.m. (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.9 million viewers overall) all drew the same demo score. “1600 Penn” is not expected to return next season.

And closing out the night, NBC saw its best numbers for a repeat of “Law & Order: SVU” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 4.0 million viewers overall).

Next week NBC will follow an original episode of “The Office” with rookie comedy “Go On” (which will finish its season on the night) and the debut of drama “Hannibal.”

CW was just a tad below last week’s averages for both “The Vampire Diaries” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 2.4 million viewers overall) and “Beauty and the Beast” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.6 million viewers overall), with the former beating out NBC in the 8 o’clock hour among adults 18-49 for a third straight week.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC and CBS, 2.3/7; Fox, 2.0/6; Univision, 1.4/4; CW, 0.9/3; NBC, 0.8/2.
In total viewers: Fox, 7.5 million; ABC, 7.1 million; CBS, 6.9 million; Univision, 3.5 million; NBC, 2.6 million; CW, 2.0 million.

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