Wednesday Ratings: ‘American Idol’ Returns With a Bang–Albeit a Smaller Bang Than Last Year

Jan 20, 2011  •  Post A Comment

Fox’s "American Idol" returned last night with its new faces at the judging table and big numbers in the Nielsen ratings, but not as big as last season, reports TVbytheNumbers.com.

The two-hour “Idol” premiere was off 18% from last year’s Tuesday premiere in the 18-49 demo, with this year’s debut averaging a 9.7 rating to last year’s 11.8. This year’s show averaged 26.1 million total viewers, down 13% from last year’s 29.9 million.

For the night as a whole, Fox came out with a huge win for its two-hour prime time, averaging a 9.7 rating in adults 18-49 to a 2.7 average for ABC, 1.9 for CBS and 1.6 for NBC. Fox’s average of 26.1 million total viewers for the night easily outpaced CBS (9.9 million), ABC (7.4 million) and NBC (5.4 million).

At 8 p.m. the first hour of "Idol" had an average rating of 9.1 in the 18-49 demographic, compared with ABC’s "The Middle" and "Better With You" averaging 2.7 and 2.2, respectively, in the same demo. NBC’s "Minute to Win It" averaged a 1.6 rating in the 18-49 demo for the hour, and CBS’s "Live to Dance" earned a 1.0 in the same demo for the time period.

At 9 p.m. "Idol’s" second hour grew to a 10.3 average rating in the 18-49 demo for the hour. ABC’s "Modern Family" and "Cougar Town" averaged 4.6 and 2.5, respectively, in the 18-49 demo, while CBS’s "Criminal Minds" logged a mean score of 2.85 in the 18-49 demo for the time slot. NBC’s "Chase" managed a 1.0 in the 18-49 demo for the hour.

The 10 p.m. hour saw a tight race that was won by NBC’s "Law & Order: SVU" with a 2.25 in the 18-49 demo, compared with ABC’s "Off the Map" with a 2.1 in the same demo and a 2.0 average for CBS’s "Blue Bloods" in its new time slot.


  1. Interesting to see next week. Will there be a continuing fall-off or can they maintain 26 million. That will be a better indication of whether the new “kinder-gentler” Idol will work.

  2. Not the failure predicted by Chuck Ross, though he’ll never admit it.

  3. Hi Doug. Doug is referring to an Open Mic blog entry I wrote recently criticizing the executive producers of the show for not realizing the importance of Simon Cowell to the show.
    I based my criticism on the executive producers explanations about how they thought Cowell was too negative, and how they actively did NOT want any new judges to behave close to how Cowell behaved on the show. You can read my blog at https://www.tvweek.com/blogs/2011/01/the-folks-behind-american-idol-have-become-tone-deaf-season-10-is-about-to-premiere-why-its-going-to.php
    As for me predicting that the show would become a failure without Cowell, Doug would be referring strictly to the headline of my piece, which was “The Folks Behind ‘Ameican Idol’ Have Become Tone Deaf. Season 10 Is About to Premiere. Why It’s Going to Be Like Jay Leno at 10 p.m. All Over Again.”
    As the season progresses we’ll see about that. The point of my piece is that it’s likely ‘Idol’ won’t be nearly as successful as it’s been in the past.
    So far all we have are these premiere numbers.
    Interestingly, given that there was certainly both a curiosity factor by the public to see how Leno was going to premiere at 10 p.m. and how the new ‘Idol’ judges were going to do in their first outing, so far Leno at 10 p.m. actually did better. Not in number of viewers, of course, but how the debuts did in comparison to past performance.
    In ‘Idol’s’ case, the show was off 18% in the 18-49-year-old demo compared to last year’s ‘Idol” , and off 13% in total viewers using the same comparison.
    ‘Leno,’ on the other hand, when he made his primetime premiere last September, delivered NBC’s highest rating in the 18-49 demo in the time slot in almost two years. Likewise, it was NBC’s biggest overall audience in the time slot in about two years as well.
    Of course this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison either.

    Chuck Ross

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