An audition by Kayne West, online snarking from Clay Aiken — and the lowest season-opener ratings ever. That’s the fast-nationals takeaway for Fox and American Idol (2.9/9) last night as the veteran competition series kicked off its 15th and final season down 10% in adults 18-49. That eclipses the previous low of the Season 14 debut on January 7, 2015.
Going back to the two-hour premiere format also meant that, unlike the one-hour season debut last year, Fox didn’t have the blockbuster debut of Empire to boost its numbers into the stratosphere. Still, with last night’s Idol opener up 71% over the Season 14 May 13 finale, Fox did easily win the night among the Big 4 in the key demo and in total viewers with 10.85 million watching.
A different sort of competition was going on over on CBS with the People’s Choice Awards (1.3/4). Although there were stage-crashers and wins by on the Jane Lynch hosted ceremony, the ratings were down 26% from last year when the show went head-to-head with the debut of Empire. With 5.97 million watching, last night’s People’s Choice also saw viewership drops of 31% compared to its January 7, 2015 show. Lead-ins 2 Broke Girls (1.7.6), which made its Wednesday debut, and the sixth- and final-season premiere of Mike & Molly (1.6/5) didn’t provide much help. Going directly into the 9 PM awards show, the 8:30 PM Mike & Molly was down 16% from its Season 4 debut of December 8, 2015, a Monday.
NBC didn’t have a big debut or an awards show, but the return of The Mysteries Of Laura (1.1/4) and Law & Order: SVU (1.8/5) saw both holding steady and rising 29% respectively compared to their pre-Christmas last originals. The big winner for the network was Chicago P.D. (1.9/6), not unexpectedly. Capping off the three-way crossover of the Dick Wolf Windy City franchises, P.D. surged 36% from its last original November 18 and was up 19% over its Season 2 winter return last January 7. With an audience of 8.7 million, last night’s Chicago P.D. was the series’ second-most-watched episode ever behind the 9.6 million for its November 12, 2014 show.
On ABC, the night’s big debut was the Season 2 opener of American Crime (1.2/4). Moving from its plum Thursday position after Scandal to a new night and a new time of year, the 10 PM Emmy-winning John Ridley-created anthology series took a 40% tumble in the demo from its March 5, 2015 Season 1 opener. With that, last night’s American Crime was up 20% among 18-49s from its May 14, 2015 finale. It actually bested the final seven episodes of its first season in the demo and, with 4.7 million watching, in total viewership.
The rest of ABC’s night was pretty much a barrel of giggles with The Middle (2.1/7) and The Goldbergs (2.1/7) both up 5% from their most recent originals and a cameo-heavy Modern Family (2.7/9) bopping up 4% for its best result since mid-November. With an appearance by Tyra Banks as the BFF of Anthony Anderson’s Dre, black-ish (2.1/6) jumped 24% over its last new show December 9 for its best result since its Season 2 premiere September 23. The comedy was also even with its Season 1 winter return of January 7 last year.
The CW was all encores.