The premiere of the hotly anticipated Fox series The X Factor didn’t exactly set the world on fire, delivering 12.1 million viewers Wednesday night in the 8 p.m.-10 p.m. time slot.
Per preliminary Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Simon Cowell’s new show notched a 4.2 rating and a 12 share in the 18-49 demo, and while those were solid numbers, the inevitable comparisons to American Idol made this a disappointing debut.
That said, it may be instructive to assess The X Factor in light of Idol’s June 2002 launch. The first installment of American Idol drew 9.85 million viewers and did a 4.8 rating in the demo. A steady grower, the show would close out its first season with a delivery of 22.8 million viewers and a 10.7 rating.
Certainly, CBS and ABC are breathing easier. At 8 p.m., Survivor: South Pacific held its own against the splashy interloper, averaging 10.4 million viewers and a 3.1/9 in the demo, while Criminal Minds bowed to 14.1 million viewers and a 4.1/10 rating.
A one-hour season opener of ABC’s The Middle improved by 11 percent versus its series premiere, drawing 9.64 million viewers and a 3.0/9 rating. At 9 p.m., back-to-back episodes of Modern Family scorched the competition, winning the demo with a 6.0/15 and serving up 14.3 million total viewers.
Last night’s two-fer marked an 11 percent increase versus Modern Family’s sophomore debut. The Emmy-winning comedy was the top-rated scripted series of 2010-11, averaging a 3.8 rating and 4.94 million adults 18-49.
Thanks to its strong lead-in and an effective marketing push, the series premiere of ABC’s Revenge won the demo at 10 p.m., earning a 3.4/9 rating while scaring up 10.2 million viewers. Ted Danson’s bow on CSI drew 12.6 million viewers and a 3.1/8 rating, beating out NBC’s first installment of a Chris Meloni-free Law & Order: SVU (7.6 million viewers, 2.3/6).
A week after premiering to 11 million viewers and a 3.7 rating/10 share among adults 18-49, the Will Arnett-Christina Applegate comedy Up All Night moved into its permanent digs at 8 p.m. All things considered, no one expected a repeat performance in the time slot. Up All Night put up some decent numbers, drawing 6.04 million viewers and a 2.3/7 demo.
Much improved by some tinkering with character—Maya Rudolph’s Ava transformed from a PR maven in the pilot to an Oprahesque daytime talk show host, giving her far more to work with onscreen—Up All Night now appears to be NBC’s most promising new comedy. (With its gags about Facebook “likes” and the enduring awfulness of the band Train, Episode 2 generously paid off on the initial promise of the Arnett-Applegate pairing.)
At 8:30 p.m., Free Agents continued to have difficulty holding on to its lead-in audience, averaging 3.86 million viewers and an anemic 1.3/4 demo. That represents a 36 percent decline in deliveries versus the prior half-hour and a 37 percent decline from the show’s Sept. 14 premiere (6.12 million, 2.1/6).
At the CW, Mario Lopez’ reality curio H8R gimped along in front of 1.09 million viewers, down 16 percent from last week’s series opener (1.29 million). Episode 2 drew a blink-and-you-missed-it 0.4/1 in the 18-49 demo.
Leading out of H8R at 9 p.m., America’s Next Top Model delivered 1.56 million viewers and an 0.7 rating/2 share among adults 18-49.