The Programming Insider: ‘Idol’ Finale Wins for Fox

Season ender bests rivals with a 17.1 rating

In Today's News

Prime-Time Metered Market Wednesday Ratings: American Idol Roars to the Winning Finish Line
Ratings Box: What’s Hot/What’s Not
On the Air Tonight: Prime-Time Programming Options
TV Tidbits: Notes of Interest
TV Trivia Time: Early Seinfeld

American Idol Roars to the Winning Finish Line

Wednesday 5/25/11
Note: The overnight data now includes DVR playback until 3 a.m. local time. One year earlier it was based on Live data only.  All times are ET/PT

Household Rating/Share
Fox: 17.1/27, CBS: 4.7/ 8, ABC: 4.4/ 7, NBC: 2.9/ 5, CW: 0.9/ 1

Percent Change from the Year-Ago Evening (Wednesday 5/26/10):
NBC: +32, ABC: +22, Fox: + 7, CW: -10, CBS: -34

Yesterday’s Winners:
American Idol (Fox), Modern Family (ABC)

Yesterday’s Losers (excluding repeats):
Cougar Town (ABC), Happy Endings (ABC), Law & Order: Los Angeles (NBC)

Ratings Breakdown:
It was all about American Idol on Fox, of course, with the two-hour season finale beating the competition combined with a 17.1 rating/27 share from 8-10 p.m.  Comparably, that outdelivered the year-ago season ender (16.0/25 on May 26, 2010) by seven percent.  And that 2010 season finale translated into 24.22 million viewers, with an 8.2 rating/24 share among adults 18-49.  Here is the half-hour breakdown:

American Idol (Fox)
8:00 p.m.: 14.9/25 (#1)
8:30 p.m.: 16.9/27 (#1)
9:00 p.m.: 17.9/29 (#1)
9:30 p.m.: 18.7/28 (#1)

Fox is reporting a record 122.4 million votes following Tuesday’s final performance show, which resulted in victory for Scotty McCreery.  Auditions for American Idol this summer will be held in St. Louis; San Diego; Pittsburgh; Charleston, S.C.; Houston; and Portland, Ore.

In series-finale news, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior on CBS, which should have worked given the lead-in support from its parent series, actually concluded with a dominant 5.2/ 9 in the overnights at 10 p.m.  While that did build out of a repeat of Criminal Minds (#2: 4.6/ 7 at 9 p.m.) by 13 percent, it was too little, too late, unfortunately.  Earlier in the evening on CBS were two repeat episodes of The Big Bang Theory at an average 4.5/ 7 (#2t) from 8-9 p.m.

ABC aired a night of season finales, which were limited, no doubt, against the American Idol steamroller.  The Middle closed season two with a second-place 4.9/ 8 in the overnights at 8 p.m., followed by a repeat of The Middle at a third-place 4.1/ 6 at 8:30 p.m.  Standout Modern Family ended its second season with a 7.4/11 at 9 p.m. (#2), which was 80 percent above the Modern Family encore, and that led into the first of two episodes of Cougar Town at a third-place 3.8/ 6 at 9:30 p.m.  Comparably, retention for Cougar Town out of Modern Family was a typically lackluster 51 percent.  Next on ABC were the season-finale episodes of Cougar Town (#3: 3.6/ 6 at 10 p.m.) and recent entry Happy Endings (#3: 2.8/ 5 at 10:30 p.m.), which moves into the Modern Family lead-out spot next season.  Cougar Town returns in midseason.

Fox populated the evening with back-to-back repeat episodes of game show Minute to Win It (#4: avg. 2.3/ 4 from 8-10 p.m.), followed by an original installment of canceled Law & Order: Los Angeles at a second-place 4.1/ 7 at 10 p.m.  And The CW capped it off with two repeat episodes of America’s Next Top Model at a very last-place 0.9/ 1 from 8-10 p.m.  Unless upcoming lead-in H8R is a huge success (and I personally hope it is given the hilarious premise), there is no reason to believe tired Top Model will be back on the map next season.

As a reminder, here is what you will be seeing on the broadcast networks on Wednesday this fall (with new shows in caps):

8:00 p.m.: The Middle
8:30 p.m.  SUBURGATORY
9:00 p.m.: Modern Family
9:30 p.m. Happy Endings (new time)
10:00 p.m.: REVENGE

8:00 p.m.: Survivor: Nicaragua
9:00 p.m.: Criminal Minds
10:00 p.m.: CSI (new day and time)

8:00 p.m.: UP ALL NIGHT
8:30 p.m.: FREE AGENTS
9:00 p.m.: Harry’s Law (new day and time)
10:00 p.m.: Law & Order: SVU

8:00 p.m. THE X FACTOR (Performance Show)

8:00 p.m.: H8R
9:00 p.m.: America’s Next Top Model

Source: Nielsen Media Research data


What’s Hot/What’s Not

Oprah Update:
The overnight ratings for the series finale of Oprah yesterday will be available later today.  But the 10.8 household rating for the second-to-last episode on Tuesday, the second-highest rated of the season, means it will be considerable.

Basketball Scores on TNT:
Four games into the current Eastern Conference Finals, live basketball coverage on TNT is on the plus side at an average 7.17 million households and 10.41 million viewers.  Compared to one year earlier, that was an increase of 30 percent in households and 33 percent in total viewers, with 11.1 million viewers for the first matchup now the second most-watched NBA game in cable television history.

Source: Nielsen Media Research data


Prime-Time Programming Options

Thursday 5/26/11

8:00 p.m. Wipeout (R)
9:00 p.m. Rookie Blue (R)
10:00 p.m. Rookie Blue (R)

8:00 p.m. The Big Bang Theory (R)
8:30 p.m. Rules of Engagement (R)
9:00 p.m. CSI (R)
10:00 p.m. The Mentalist (R)

8:00 p.m. Community (R)
8:30 p.m. 30 Rock (R)
9:00 p.m. The Office (R)
9:30 p.m. Parks and Recreation (R)
10:00 p.m. The Office (R)
10:30 p.m. 30 Rock (R)

8:00 p.m. So You Think You Can Dance (season premiere, two hours)

8:00 p.m. The Vampire Diaries (R)
9:00 p.m. Nikita (R)


Notes of Interest

Cheryl Cole Out on The X Factor:
Upcoming singing competition The X Factor on Fox has axed one of the four judges, England’s Cheryl Cole, in favor of Pussycat Doll and Dancing With the Stars winner Nicole Scherzinger, who was signed on as one of the hosts.  Scherzinger now joins co-judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Antonio “L.A.” Reid.

A Different Looking Law & Order: SVU:
Christopher Meloni will exit his role as Elliot Stabler on NBC’s long-running Law & Order: SVU, while conversations are underway for former Ghost Whisperer star Jennifer Love Hewitt to fill in for Mariska Hargitay, who is looking to reduce her work load.  Considering SVU has been losing steam for years, don’t expect these changes to have a positive impact.

Disney Orders New Teen Comedy:
Kids and tweens sensation Disney Channel has ordered a live-action multicamera sitcom called Austin & Ally, which focuses on two girls who become overnight pop stars as a result of the Internet.  Laura Marano and Ross Lynch star.

Mark Your Calendars:
The upcoming fourth season of Glenn Close drama Damages, which switches from FX to DirecTV, will open on Wednesday, July 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.  The first (and hopefully last) season of Khloe and Lamar on E! will conclude on Monday, May 30 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, leading into the season finale of The Dance Scene.

Dancing With the Stars Outdelivers American Idol in Total Viewers:
Click here for Mr. TV’s quotes today in the New York Post.


Early Seinfeld

Note: To respond to the trivia, please click HERE. Do not click Reply.

Nine years before the debut of his self-titled sitcom, Jerry Seinfeld had a short-lived stint on a then-popular comedy.  Which sitcom was it?

a) Barney Miller
b) Benson
c) House Calls
d) Mork & Mindy
e) Too Close for Comfort

The answer to yesterday’s question…

What was Carol Brady’s occupation when the gang named Brady reunited for made-for A Very Brady Christmas in 1988?

a) Architect
b) Hair stylist
c) Journalist
d) Real estate agent
e) Receptionist


Is: d) Real estate agent.  After years of drinking coffee and handing the kids their lunches when they left for school, lazy Carol Brady finally had a legitimate job.

Current kudos goes to:
Steve Albright, John Beadle, Larry Collins (2x), Tom Condosta, Mark Cosenza, Jamie Czarnezki, Audrey Davis, Mike Fitzgerald, Adam Giagni, Maureen Goldman, Martha Gonzalez, Barb Hemberger, Bob Ingersoll, David Jackino, Ken Jobe, Shelly Johnson, Marie LeFevre Karp, Mary Kinoshita, Synda Kollman, Katie Kuyper, Aaron Paquette, Gordon Purcell, Julie Rasmussen, Jay Rossi, Colleen Roth, Mary Ryan