Ratings Chart Attack! is the TV industry’s destination for a daily dose of prime-time ratings. Delivering the daily scoop on which shows are scoring. TVWeek’s Sergio Ibarra calls the winners and losers, and what it means to broadcast network programmers. From day-in, day-out ratings to long-view trends and noteworthy performances, Ratings Chart Attack! delivers.


Ratings Chart Attack!

Fox's 'Idol' Takes Inauguration Night Win

January 21, 2009 11:26 AM

Fox was the No. 1 network Tuesday night as "American Idol" outperformed the other broadcast networks and their primetime presidential inauguration coverage.

American Idol

ABC, CBS and NBC featured some primetime inauguration special throughout the night, each trailing behind "Idol's" 8.9 rating/22 share among adults 18-49 and 22.4 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research information. Click here for more on how "Idol" compared with primetime news specials.

"Idol" did however suffer a 24% rating drop in the demographic, compared to last year's 15% Tuesday-night drop between first- and second-week ratings. Last night's second episode of the season was also down 25% compared with the second episode of last season. However, due to inauguration coverage, live +7 numbers are expected to show larger-than-normal increases.

"Fringe" benefited greatly from the "Idol" lead in, increasing 31% from its last original episode to come in as the show's second-highest-rated episode of the season, behind its second episode from September. Overall the Fox averaged a 6.8/16 and 17.3 million viewers.

ABC, as the only broadcast network to feature inauguration-related coverage throughout primetime, finished the night second with a 3.4/8 and 11.5 million viewers.

NBC tied for second in the demographic with a 3.4/8 but came in fourth in viewers with 8.9 million. From 8-10 p.m. a new episode of "The Biggest Loser" was up 18% in the demographic over last week, when the show went up against the two-hour premiere of "Idol." In the 9 p.m. hour, "Loser" and "Fringe" tied for No. 1 with a 4.7/11.

CBS finished the night fourth with a 2.2/5 but third among viewers with 9.7 million. Repeat episodes of "NCIS" and "The Mentalist" sandwiched the network's "Change & Challenge" inauguration special.

The CW placed fifth with a 0.9/2 and 2 million viewers. A new episode of "90210" remained flat from last week, while a new "Privileged" was up 60% from last week. Among women 18-34, the network averaged a 1.7 rating for the night.

Prime Time Preliminary Tuesday Ratings









3.4 / 8

Neighborhood Ball: An Inauguration Celebration

3.7 / 9

12.6 million

A Moment in History: The Inauguration of Barack Obama

2.9 / 7

9.5 million


2.2 / 5


2.3 / 6

11.7 mil

Change and Challenge: The Inauguration of Barack Obama

1.8 / 4

6.9 mil

The Mentalist

2.6 / 7

10.5 mil


6.8 / 16

American Idol

8.9 / 22

22.4 mil


4.7 / 11

12.1 mil

No Programming


3.4 / 8

The Biggest Loser

3.9 / 9

10.2 mil

Dateline (Presidential Inauguration Special)

2.2 / 6

6.2 mil


0.9 / 2


1.1 / 3

2.4 mil


0.8 / 2

1.7 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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