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.

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