UPDATE 11:30 AM: In the finals, American Idol’s season premiere went up a 4.7 in 18-49 and 15.2 million viewers.
American Idol seems to have gotten at least some of its mojo back, judging by the favorable reactions to its premiere and new judge Harry Connick Jr. But that is not translating to a ratings turnaround, at least not yet. Last night’s Season 13 opener of the veteran singing competition drew a 4.6 rating among adults 18-49, down 23% from last year, and 15 million viewers, down 16%. In 18-49, Idol was edged by this fall’s season debut of NBC’s The Voice (4.9), while the two shows tied in total viewers. Still, there was an encouraging sign — Idol’s premiere was up 28% in 18-49 and 5% from last season’s finale, the first time the show has posted a finale-to-premiere bump in three years, since the introduction of new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler at the beginning of Season 10. Fox comfortably won Wednesday in 18-49 and total viewers posting the network’s best nightly averages with entertainment programming this season.
Idol has been on a downswing ever since the meteoric highs of Season 6, which opened with 15.8 18-49 rating and 37.4 million viewers in 2007. The only time the show was able to stem the ratings erosion since then was in 2009 when Season 9, the final with Simon Cowell as a judge, premiered with a 11.8 in 18-49, up a smidgen from Season 9′s 11.7, while down slightly in total viewers.
NBC’s new drama Chicago PD (1.5) was down 25% from its premiere last week. NBC brass likely had hoped for a smaller drop but the cop drama at least retained 100% from its lead-in, Law & Order: SVU. For now, Chicago PD appears very lead-in dependent — when SVU was strong last week (2.1), it did well too (2.0). At 8 PM, Revolution (1.3) was down 13%.
The American Idol premiere pushed down ABC’s comedy block. The Middle (1.8) was down 18% from last week, Modern Family (3.2) down 9% and Super Fun Night (1.7) down 6%. Suburgatory (1.6) didn’t bring a tangible improvement to the 8:30 PM slot. Season 3 of the suburban comedy opened with a 1.6, down 43% from its opener last season, which followed Modern Family, and only a tenth higher than the last airing of cancelled predecessor Back In The Game.
Following comedy repeats, CBS’ Criminal Minds (2.4) returned from a month-long hiatus even with its most recent original on Dec. 11. CSI (2.0) was up 11%. On The CW, (0.9) was down 18% in its return from hiatus but (0.6) perked up 20%. (May be it was the extra sampling the show got over the weekend with the marathon on sibling TVG.)