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Wednesday Prime Time: Lowest-Rated 'Idol' Premiere Since Season One TVbytheNumbers

The most closely watched event of broadcast prime time Wednesday night was the season 12 premiere of “American Idol,” and the program delivered both good news and bad news for Fox.

The good news: “Idol” was the top-rated show of the night and Fox scored a big win for prime time overall, based on Nielsen overnights. The bad news: It was the lowest-rated season premiere for “Idol” since its first season, when it aired in the summer, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

The program scored a 6.0 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, delivering 17.9 million total viewers -- with both numbers easily topping the night. The demo average was down 19% from the number the show pulled a year ago -- a 7.4. Numbers for “Idol” were time zone adjusted, while other broadcast numbers for the night are preliminary.

Fox easily won prime time with a 6.0 average rating in viewers 18,49, followed by ABC (2.5 average), CBS (2.1), Univision (1.6), CW (1.0) and, in a rare sixth-place finish, NBC (0.8). NBC aired an all-repeat lineup, but even so it’s unusual for any of the major broadcast networks to dip to a level where they’re beaten by CW.

Fox also scored an easy win in total viewers, with its 17.9 million average well ahead of CBS (10.7 million), ABC (7.5 million), Univision (3.9 million), NBC (2.9 million) and CW (2.6 million).

CW was bolstered by “Arrow,” which improved one-tenth of a ratings point from its previous original episode to a 1.1 average in 18-49. “Supernatural” held steady with a 0.9.

ABC had the night’s second-highest-rated show, behind “Idol.” “Modern Family” came in with a 4.3 average in viewers 18-49, which was off four-tenths of a point from last week. Also on ABC, “Suburgatory” delivered a 2.4, down two-tenths; “Nashville” pulled a 2.2, up one-tenth; “The Middle” slipped to a 2.3, down one-tenth; and “The Neighbors” settled for a 1.9, off two-tenths.

CBS ran with a repeat of “NCIS” up against the first hour of “Idol” at 8 p.m. and settled for a 1.1 in the 18-49 demo. Against “Idol’s” second hour, a fresh installment of “Criminal MInds” came through with a 2.8, down three-tenths of a point from the previous original; while “CSI” won the 10 p.m. hour with a 2.3, ticking up one-tenth.