Nellie Andreeva

After a string of returning series on the CW and NBC premiered lower this fall, CBS veteran Survivor bucked the trend in its new Wednesday 8 PM slot. (Actually, that was Survivor’s original slot when it launched in the summer of 2000 before moving to Thursdays in Season 2.) Survivor: Nicaragua (3.9/12 in adults 18-49, 12 million viewers) was up 8% in the 18-49 demo and 3% in total viewers from the premiere of Survivor: Samoa cycle last fall, an encouraging sign as scheduling moves late in a series’ lifespan most often lead to audience erosion. Against the February debut of the all-star Heroes vs. Villains, the new Nicaragua was down 13%. Survivor boosted the two-hour season finale of Big Brother (2.9/8), which was renewed for another cycle yesterday. The summer reality series was up 7% from last week and up 4% from last year’s finale.

Overall, it was a pretty strong night, with NBC’s America’s Got Talent finale also performing solidly. From 8-10 PM, the final result show, drew 16 million viewers, the reality series’ largest audience ever, and a 3.7/11 in 18-49, up 6% from last year and the second highest rating ever for the show. Talent provided decent sampling for the 10 PM preview of NBC’s new Friday legal drama Outlaw starring Jimmy Smits. It averaged 2.4/7 in 18-49, 10.9 million. The drama retained 68% of Talent‘s audience and almost as much of the reality show’s demo lead-in and logged NBC’s largest non-Olympic viewership in the hour since September 16, 2009, the Wednesday premiere of The Jay Leno Show. In the demo, Outlaw fared better than the premieres of NBC’s new scripted series last fall, Mercy (+9%) and Trauma (+9%). (Of course, none of them is around this fall.)

Airing against reality fare on NBC and CBS, the season finale of Fox’s Masterchef (2.0/6)  was down 17% from last week. CW’s new cheerleading drama Hellcats (2.7 million, 1.4/4 in 18-34) slipped modest 10% in total viewers and 16% in 18-34 in week 2. The new show also was down 7% from its America’s Next Top Model lead-in after becoming the first series or season premiere on CW or UPN to match or build onto its Top Model-lead-in in total viewers last week. Meanwhile, Top Model improved 4% in total viewers and 7% in 18-34 from its season premiere. NBC won the night in total viewers (14.3 million) and 18-49 (33/10), with CBS close second in the demo (3.2/9)

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