‘Modern Family’ Tops, ‘American Idol’ Hits Series Low on Wednesday

On sluggish night overall, Alphabet's new comedy 'Family Tools' opens modestly

Modern Family Ratings

Fox captured the first Wednesday of the May sweep but its “American Idol” hit an all-time low for a Wednesday episode and was again bested by ABC’s “Modern Family,” which was the night’s No. 1 program among young adults. Prior to “Modern Family,” the Alphabet saw modest tune-in for the premiere of “Family Tools.”

Overall, it was a depressing night for the Big Four, which combined for just 25% of the available 18-49 audience — down from 32% for the comparable Wednesday of last year. If you add in CW, though, which was up from last year, the five English-language broadcasters combined for a 28 share, versus last year’s 33.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “American Idol” averaged a 2.8 rating/8 share in adults 18-49 and 11.1 million viewers overall from 8 to 10 p.m., down 15% (0.5) from last week’s average and more than 35% from last year. The music contest, which did stand as Wednesday’s most-watched program overall, may have been impacted by a special recap hourlong episode of NBC’s “The Voice” from 8 to 9, though it wasn’t a big draw (1.6/5 in 18-49, 5.6 million viewers overall).

Elsewhere, ABC’s “The Middle” (2.0/7 in 18-49, 7.3 million viewers overall) was in line with its most recent original and with last year, but the series premiere of “Family Tools” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 5.8 million viewers overall) lost about 25% of its lead-in and was down by the same amount from last year’s episode of “Suburgatory” in the timeslot; “Tools” was down 12% from “Suburgatory’s” final airing in the 8:30 slot two weeks ago. It was followed by “Modern Family” (3.5/10 in 18-49, 9.5 million viewers overall), down 8% from its most recent first-run episode and off about 15% from last year but ruling as the night’s No. 1 show and beating Fox’s “Idol” head-to-head in 18-49 (3.5 to 2.9) for a third straight time with an original episode.

“How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 6.2 million viewers overall) continues to perform OK at 9:30 p.m. for ABC, retaining about 63% of its “Modern Family” lead-in (pending updates) — better than the 56% hold a year ago for “Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23.” And at 10, “Nashville” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 5.3 million viewers overall) was in a tight battle for the hour’s 18-49 lead but was off 19% from last year’s “Revenge” (2.1).

At CBS, “Survivor: Caramoan” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 9.1 million viewers overall) was down about 20% from its high of last week (2.9) and off 12% year to year. And from 9 to 11 p.m., “Criminal Minds” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 10.0 million viewers overall) and “CSI” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall) were each off more than 20% from last year. “CSI” edged out its drama rivals in 18-49 while winning outright in 25-54 (2.6/7) and cruising in total viewers.

NBC followed its “Voice” special with “Law & Order: SVU” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 5.7 million viewers overall), which was down about 20% from last week when it faced less original competition, and “Chicago Fire” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 6.4 million viewers overall), which was up a tick from its most recent original but down a bit from what “SVU” did in the hour a year ago.

CW’s “Arrow” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 2.8 million viewers overall) and “Supernatural” (0.9/2 in 18-49, 2.1 million viewers overall) continue to be a good pairing, down a tick from last week but up sharply from the net’s lackluster performers of a year ago (“L.A. Complex” and “America’s Next Top Model”).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 2.8/8; CBS, 2.2/6; ABC, 2.1/6; NBC, 1.6/5; Univision, 1.4/4; CW, 0.9/3.

In total viewers: Fox, 11.1 million; CBS, 9.4 million; ABC, 6.6 million; NBC, 5.9 million; Univision, 3.4 million; CW, 2.5 million.