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Reinventing ‘Idol’: Will The Reality Veteran Finish Up In The Ratings Without Simon?

Nellie Andreeva

On Thursday night, the American Idol episode that determined the show’s 13 finalists drew 25.3 million viewers and a 8.2/24 in adults 18-49, up a whopping 30% from the comparable night last year. After starting off down double digits from last season, the last one with star judge Simon Cowell, the singing competition has been consistently chipping away at last season’s ratings advantage, keeping its declines in the single digits and even slightly outperforming the corresponding 2010 episodes on a couple of occasions. “We have to pinch ourselves sometimes, I don’t think anybody expected it to go as well as it has,” Fox’s EVP program planning and research Preston Beckman said.

Indeed, the doomsday scenarios about Idol crashing and burning in the ratings without Simon did not materialize. Right now, Idol’s current tenth season is about even with Season 9 in total viewers and down moderate 7% in adults 18-49. After taking a dive in the ratings at the end of last season to the levels of its maiden summer cycle in 2002, could the veteran reality series reverse its down trend this year with a first season-to-season ratings bump since its ratings peaked in Season 5? “We feel that from this point forward we are tracking on par with where Idol was last year and maybe we could surprise ourselves and start to grow with the live shows,” Beckman said. Why is he so upbeat … Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘American Idol’ Up, Dominates Repeat-Laden Thursday

Nellie Andreeva

Fox’s American Idol reigned supreme last night while the other networks turned off the lights following the end of the February sweep on Wednesday. The two-hour Idol broadcast, which revealed the Top 13 finalists, drew a 8.1/23 in adults 18-49 and 25 million viewers. With no original competition besides a new Rules of Engagement on CBS, Idol was up 13% in the demo from last Thursday (15% in viewers) to hit its highest marks on the night this season in 18-49 and total viewers. Versus the comparable episode last year, which was less dramatic as cuts had been made gradually and not in one fell swoop as they were this year, Idol was up 29% in 18-49 and viewers. Fox logged the highest-rated Thursday night for any network in four years. With a Big Bang Theory repeat as a lead-in, Rules of Engagement (2.3/7) was down 18% from last week when it followed an original Big Bang to hit a series low with a regularly scheduled telecast.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘American Idol’ Holds Steady While Several Series Hit/Tie Lows

Nellie Andreeva

Fox’s American Idol (7.2/20 in adults 18-49, 21.7 million) continues to hold up well. Its first Hollywood week episode last night was down just 4% in the demo and 1% in total viewers from last week’s Thursday audition episode. Vs. the comparable episode on Wednesday last year, Idol was down 7% in 18-49 and up 3% in viewers. At 9 PM, Bones (3.3/9, 10.1 million) was even with last week, and Fox once again topped the night with a 5.3/14 in 18-49 and 15.9 million viewers.

Last night was a mixed bag for ABC. At 8 PM, Winter Wipeout (2.2/6, 6.9 million) continues to fade against Idol after a strong start, down 12% in 18-49 from last week for a season low. Tentopole drama Grey’s Anatomy (3.9/10) was also down, by 9%, tying its season low. On the bright side, Grey’s spinoff Private Practice 2.7/7 perked up, up 8% from last week, despite its lead-in being down.

CBS’ lineup was mostly down. Big Bang Theory (3.9/11, 12.8 million) was down 9%, $#*! My Dad Says (2.7/7, 10.4 million) was down 4%, while CSI (2.8/7, 12.6 million) was down 7% to tie its series low. At 10 PM, The Mentalist (2.9/8, 14.7 million) was flat. CBS (3.0/8, 13 million) was No.2 for the night in 18-49 and viewers behind Fox.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Mr. Sunshine’ Off To Solid Start, ‘Blue Bloods’ Rebounds Big

Nellie Andreeva

ABC’s new Matthew Perry comedy series Mr. Sunshine had a promising debut last night, drawing a 3.7/10 in adults 18-49 and 10.6 million viewers at 9:30 PM. It was helped by a hot Valentine’s Day episode of Modern Family (5.0/13, 13.11 million, up 9% in the demo from its last original on Jan. 19). In the battle of the former Friends stars, the premiere of Mr. Sunshine couldn’t quite match the series premiere of Courteney Cox’s Cougar Town in the same slot (4.3/11, 11.4 million on Sep. 23, 2009 with a 4.3/12, 12.7 million Modern Family lead-in). Still, Mr. Sunshine marked ABC’s best series debut this season in 18-49, retained solid 74% of its Modern Family demo lead-in and posted the best numbers in the slot in total viewers and 18-49 since the series premiere and second episode of Cougar Town, respectively. Modern Family‘s numbers are even more impressive given its weak lead-in last night, freshman comedy Better with You (2.0/5), which was down 9% in the demo from its last original on Jan. 19 to hit a series low. At 8 PM, The Middle (2.6/7) was even with its last original. Ditto for midseason drama Off the Map (1.9/5), which finished last in the 10 PM hour.

NBC’s Law & Order: SVU (2.6/7, 8.1 million) once again won the 10 PM slot in the demo, but it was down 10% from last week. Meanwhile, CBS’ Blue Bloods (2.3/6, 12.5 million) … Read More »

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RATING RAT RACE: ‘Idol’ Holds While ‘Perfect Couples’, ‘Parks & Recreation’ Drop

Nellie Andreeva

As February sweep kicked in last night, we had our first all-original Thursday competition on the broadcast networks since the return of American Idol. As expected, the newest entry, midseason comedy Perfect Couples (1.4/4) was the hardest hit by Idol, down 18% from last week’s performance which, in turn, was down 19% from the comedy’s Thursday debut. With the exception of 30 Rock (2.4/6), which was flat, all other NBC comedies were down week-to-week as competition increased with original Big Bang Theory, Grey’s Anatomy and The Mentalist. Community (2.0/5) was down 9% from last week, The Office down 8% and Parks & Recreation (2.5/6) down an alarming 17%. Outsourced (1.8/5) was down a modest 5% and showed a solid 75% retention of its 30 Rock lead-in.

Fox’s American Idol (7.5/20, 21.8 million) continues to hold up well, down 3% from last week in 18-49 and total viewers and towering over the competition. Airing against an original Grey’s and CSI, Bones (3.3, 10.9 million) was down 15%.

CBS’ Big Bang Theory (4.3/12) showed growth against Idol, up 2% vs. its last original 2 weeks ago. It also manged to finish as the highest-rated scripted program of the night, edging ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy (4.2/11, down 2% from Jan. 13) which did not face Idol. With an original Big Bang as a lead-in, $#*! My Dad Says (2.8/7) was up 22% from last week when it followed a repeat. CSI (3.0/8, 13.8 million) was … Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘American Idol’ Pulls Even With Last Season

Nellie Andreeva

Fox’s hourlong American Idol (8.9/24 in adults 18-49, 24.9 million) once again held steady, down 3% in the demo from last Wednesday’s two-hour episode and up 3% vs. that episode’s comparable 8-9 PM hour. What is probably even more important for Fox is that, while Idol started off down by double digits from its last season, it has now pulled even. Compared to last year’s third Tuesday episode, last night’s show was flat in 18-49 and up 2% in viewers. If only the 8-9 PM hour of last year’s episode is counted, last night’s 8-9 PM episode was slightly up.

Following its surprisingly strong performance on Monday, Human Target disappointed last night despite posting its best numbers in a year, 2.6/7 in 18-49. That was up from the 2.1 rating the show pulled on Monday at 8 PM but it had no lead-in there and the largest possible lead-in, Idol, last night. Then again, scripted shows don’t do well behind Idol. Still, in its first airing after Idol on Thursday, Bones averaged a so-so 46% retention. Human Target‘s was 29%.

In a rare occurrence this season, it was all good news for NBC last night. A two-hour Minute To Win It (2.4/6) was up a whopping 71% from its hourlong edition last week, while Law & Order: SVU (2.9/8) was up 26% vs. its last original 2 weeks ago. Minute grew steadily throughout the two hours and set a season high for … Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Idol’ Holds, ‘Bones’ Up While NBC Comedies Slip

Nellie Andreeva

Fox’s American Idol continued to keep the pace from premiere week last night, while Bones rose to its best showing in 4 years. But, after a stronger than expected debut last week, NBC’s 3-hour comedy block is starting to show cracks.

Just like it did on Tuesday, American Idol held nicely to its premiere week numbers. Last night, the hourlong show from 8-9 PM drew a 7.6/21 in adults 18-49 and 22.3 million total viewers, down only 3% from last Thursday. Helping things was the fact that Idol‘s biggest competition in the 8 PM hour, CBS’ hit comedy The Big Bang Theory (2.4/7), was a repeat last night vs. an original last week, as was the rest of the CBS lineup except for freshman comedy $#*! My Dad Says (2.3/6), which needs to use up its fresh episodes before it hands off the 8:30 PM slot to Rules of Engagement next month. Against Idol, $#*! dropped 18% in the demo from last week after earlier this month logging matching week-to-week performances behind an original an repeat Big Bang. Also taking a ratings hit in the 8 PM hour was ABC’s reality series Winter Wipeout (2.4/7), down 8% last night, following a 28% drop in its first face-off against Idol last week. Like CBS, ABC aired repeats for the rest of the night. Read More »

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Ratings Rat Race: ‘Idol’ Holds In Week 2

Nellie Andreeva

Fox woke up to some encouraging American Idol ratings news this morning — the reality hit drew a 9.2 rating/24 in adults 18-49 last night, down only 5% from last Wednesday’s premiere for the highest ever Week 2 vs. Week 1 retention. (Last year’s comparable drop was 14%). There is an asterisk – this year’s Episode 3 was a two-hour one while last year’s was 60 minutes. If only the first hour of last night’s show is counted, the drop would be 12%. Still, given the curiosity factor involved in people tuning in for the premiere to see the new judges, it is a good sign that with the novelty wearing off most viewers came back. Fox easily won the night with Idol.

CBS’ Live to Dance and NBC’s Chase, which were decimated by the premiere of Idol last Wednesday, recovered a bit. Live to Dance (1.1/3), which stars former Idol judge Paula Abdul, was up by a tenth at 8 PM, while NBC’s Chase (1.2/3) was up by two tenths at 9 PM. (The latter was more impressive as Chase‘s lead-in, reality show Minute to Win It (1.4/4) was actually down 13% from last week to tie its series low.) CBS’ drama Criminal Minds (3.2/8) was also up week-to-week, by 10%, but the network’s freshman Blue Bloods (2.0/6, 12 million) was flat in the demo from last week, proving to be impervious to lead-in or competition. In addition to a slightly … Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Idol’ Down Thursday, Okay Start For NBC’s All-Comedy Block

Nellie Andreeva

The good news is that Fox has finally established the elusive Thursday beachfront with American Idol. The bad news is that it came with a price, sending the reality hit to its lowest-rated second night premiere ever. Surprisingly, the casualties were limited for the Thursday 8 PM shows under assault; not surprisingly the other reality show in the hour, ABC’s Winter Wipeout, was impacted the most. And somewhat surprisingly, NBC’s three-hour comedy block did better than expected.

In its Thursday debut last night, Idol drew a 7.8 rating among adults 18-49 and 22.9 million viewers from 8-9 PM. Vs. the show’s second night premiere on Wednesday last year, which was 90 minutes, the show was down 20% in 18-49 and 13% in total viewers. In the more apples-to-apples comparison of this year’s Thursday opener to the 8-9 PM hour of last year’s Wednesday premiere, the declines were 15% in 18-49 and 9% in viewers. At 9 PM, Bones (3.6/9) hit a season high but held onto a so-so 46% of its Idol lead-in (It’s always been hard for scripted shows to follow Idol; Fox has had better success with unscripted fare behind the reality juggernaut.) What’s more, Bones faced weaker than normal competition in its first outing at 9 PM as the time slot leader, Grey’s Anatomy, was a repeat. With Idol and Bones, Fox easily dominated the night and logged its highest-rated Thursday night with regular programming in … Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Idol’ Down But Still Dominates; ‘Live To Dance’, ‘Chase’ Crushed

Nellie Andreeva

A lot is riding on American Idol at Fox, which usually turns from also-ran to a ratings leader overnight when the reality juggernaut hits the air. The pressure is not as great this season and the network has the Super Bowl. But the scrutiny has never been greater because of the judge overhaul in the wake of original star Simon Cowell’s departure that played out in the blogosphere over the summer. Overall, new judge Steven Tyler is getting good grades for his debut as is new (old) showrunner Nigel Lythgoe for focusing more on the good singers and less on the sideshows. As for the ratings, the question was “How much down will the show return without Simon?” We just got that answered. In the fast nationals, the two-hour American Idol Season 10 premiere drew 26.1 million viewers and a 9.7 rating/26 share among adults 18-49. That was down 13% in viewers and 18% in the 18-49 demo from last year’s premiere and the reality veteran’s lowest-rated season opener since the show’s inauspicious debut in summer 2002. (historical data below) It also represents the show’s biggest ratings drop between seasons. The numbers are expected to get adjusted up in the finals, so the demo decline is projected to be 16%. (The decline is bigger in the demo than in the total viewership because the Idol audience skewed older this year. Hey, one of the judges, Steven Tyler, is 62.) Even … Read More »

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