Fox Rides American Idol to Highest Ratings Yet

Last night, American Idol gave Fox its highest ratings yet in prime time, with a 10.9 rating/16 share, according to Nielsen Media Research data—an average of 12 million households tuning in to the network, between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. CBS followed with a 5.9/ 9, or 10 million households. NBC lagged at 4.9/8, followed by ABC (4.5/7) and The CW (0.8/1).

The metered market ratings (overnights) are a compilation of 56 markets across the country.

Fox’s victory was a reflection, of course, of still-potent American Idol, which scored a hefty 14.5 rating/22 share with a two-hour edition from 8-10 p.m. (which peaked at 9:30 p.m. at a 16.0/24). Year to year, Idol remains on the 10 percent-20 percent downside, but it still tops the charts and should remain so for the remainder of the season.

Second place CBS has positive news of its own, with the series premiere of Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior at a dominant 8.2/14 in the overnights at 10 p.m. Comparably, this was equal to week-ago occupant Blue Bloods, with retention out of parent Criminal Minds (8.4/13 at 9 p.m.) a significant 98 percent. It is absolutely unprecedented for a new series to maintain this much of its initial lead-in.

Earlier in the evening at 8 p.m. on CBS was the season premiere of Survivor: Redemption Island at a second place 6.4/10. Comparably, that is still a double-digit improvement from year-ago occupants The New Adventures of Old Christine and Gary Unmarried, but opposite Idol, this performance was 10 percent below its fall season opener on Sept. 15, 2010.

Over at ABC there are two positives of note: The Middle (5.6/9 at 8 p.m.) and Modern Family (7.6/11 at 9 p.m.). But Better with You (4.2/6) continues to underperform at 8:30 p.m., sitcom Mr. Sunshine (5.0/8 at 9:30 p.m.) dipped by 35 percent from its week-ago debut and drama Off the Map finished last at 10 p.m. with a 3.4/6.

NBC failed miserably care of back-to-back episodes of game show Minute to Win It from 8-10 p.m., with an average 2.5/4 in the overnights from 8-10 p.m. (and a fourth place finish in each half hour). But veteran Law & Order: SVU perked up to second at 10 p.m. with a 5.2/9—126 percent above the 9:30 p.m. portion of Minute to Win It. The CW populated the evening with repeats of Nikita (#5: 1.0/2) and The Vampire Diaries (#5: 0.6/1).