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Ratings Chart Attack!

'Idol' Looks Even Better on Wednesday

January 15, 2009 12:02 PM

Fox's premiere of "American Idol" Wednesday held on strong after Tuesday's season debut, showing night-to-night gains in the live-plus-same-day time zone-adjusted Fast National numbers from Nielsen.

American Idol

"Idol" scored an 11.8 rating among adults 18-49 and drew 30.3 million viewers in the time zone-adjusted numbers, marking the first time in five years that a Wednesday night "Idol" debut posted gains over the Tuesday opener (vs. 11.7). Last night's episode also marked the first time in five years that a Wednesday "Idol" premiere retained at least 100% of its viewers from the Tuesday debut the night before.

Click here for more on how last night's debut compares to last season's two-night debut, and here for what Fox reality chief Mike Darnell has to say about "Idol's" performance this week.

All numbers in the chart below reflect standard preliminary numbers from Nielsen Media Research.

Fox easily took the night in the 18-49 demographic and in total viewers, followed by CBS (2.9/7, 11.4 million) in second.

Despite the tough competition from "Idol", a new episode of "The New Adventures of Old Christine" was on par with its last original episode last month, and "Gary Unmarried" took only a 9% dip in the ratings. "Criminal Minds" saw a 57% increase from its "Gary" lead-in, but dropped 15% from its last original showing in the 9 p.m. hour, when "Idol" saw increases from the hour before. "CSI: NY" won its time period at 10 p.m., although it showed an 8% drop from its last original airing. CBS had the No. 2 shows for the night with "Criminal Minds" and "CSI: NY."

ABC and NBC tied for third for the night (1.7/4), though NBC was alone in third place among total viewers with 6 million, compared to ABC's 4.5 million.

NBC took a 26% dip compared to its performance a week ago, with "Knight Rider" down 6% and a new "Law and Order" down 27%.

ABC aired a special repeat of "Lost" in anticipation of its season premiere next Wednesday, where it goes up against "Idol" and the new Fox series "Lie to Me."

The CW finished fifth for the night (0.5/1, 1.1 million), with a new episode of "13 Fear Is Real" taking a 36% ratings drop compared with last week in light of "Idol." The network averaged a 0.7 among women 18-34.

Updated: Paragraphs 3 and 6. 12:25 p.m.

Prime Time Preliminary Wednesday Ratings









1.7 / 4


1.7 / 4

4.5 million


2.9 / 7

New Adventures of Old Christine

1.9 / 5

7.3 mil

Gary Unmarried

2.1 / 5

7.1 mil

Criminal Minds

3.3 / 8

14.1 mil


3.3 / 9

12.8 mil


11.6 / 29

American Idol

11.6 / 29

29.9 mil

No Programming


1.7 / 4

Knight Rider

1.6 / 4

5.3 mil

Law & Order: SVU

1.2 / 3

4.5 mil

Law & Order

2.2 / 6

8.2 mil


0.5 / 1

13 Fear Is Real

0.7 / 2

1.6 mil


0.3 / 1

0.7 mil

No Programming

Source: Nielsen Media Research

*Ratings are specified in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic and viewership in P2+.

A note about ratings: Ratings are expressed as percentages of Nielsen's estimated 114.5 million U.S. television households. The first number, the rating, is a percentage of households tuned into a specific program at a specific time.

The second number, the share, is a percentage of households with televisions in use tuned into that same program. For example, if a show obtains a 10.2/16, this means that 10.2% of all U.S. households tuned into the program at some point during the broadcast. Meanwhile, 16% of all households watching television during the time period viewed the program at some point. Ratings are broken down further by demographic, as networks sell advertising time based on the makeup of the audience.


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