Nellie Andreeva

Last night marked the return of one TV star, Kiefer Sutherland, and the departure of another, Marg Helgenberger. Sutherland’s new Fox series, Touch, drew a 3.9/10 among adults 18-49 and 11.9 million viewers in a preview behind American Idol. It matched the demo rating for the preview of Glee behind Idol in May 2009 despite a much weaker lead-in; American Idol was still in its prime in 2009, and Glee followed the performance finale, while Touch was behind an auditions episode of a declining Idol. Touch‘s retention, 61%, was the highest ever for a drama debut after Idol. Despite not being labeled as a premiere, if treated as one, Touch would rank as the second-highest-rated new drama series this season behind ABC’s Once Upon A Time (4.0, 12.8 million viewers), and as Fox’s highest-rated drama opening in three years. Idol‘s Aspen auditions episode (6.4/18) was down 11% from the fast national for the two-hour season premiere last Wednesday (vs. the 8-9 PM hour only, the drop was 7%). Fox won the night in 18-49 and total viewers.

Helgenberger’s farewell episode as a CSI regular posted a 3.3/9 in 18-49 and 14 million total viewers, up 17% in the demo form last week, buoying the veteran crime drama to season highs in both categories. CSI‘s lead-in, Criminal Minds (3.6/5), also was up from last week, by 13%. It was helped by not facing Idol and an original Modern Family at 9 PM. (ABC aired reruns last night.) NBC’s reconfigured Wednesday 8-9 PM comedy block continued to struggle mightily against Idol. Whitney (1.4/4) was down 13% from last week and Are You There, Chelsea? (1.4/4) was down 18%, both hitting series lows. They barely edged ABC’s comedy repeats in the hour, The Middle (1.5/4) and Suburgatory (1.4/4).

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