The "American Idol
" women sang for two hours on Wednesday, helping to take the starch out of new programming on ABC and CBS, though "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" gave NBC its biggest 10 p.m. audience since the return of original programming.
Among adults 18-49, FOX averaged an 8.5 rating for the night. In the key demographic, that beat the combined totals for CBS (2.8 rating), NBC (2.3 rating) and ABC (2.0 rating). The CW's 03 rating trailed.
Overall, FOX averaged an estimated 23.55 million viewers to go with a 13.4 rating/21 share. That more than doubled CBS' 6.6/11 and 10.54 million average audience. NBC finished third with a 4.9/8, beating ABC's 3.6/6. The CW's 0.6/1 was fifth.
FOX began in first with a 13.2/21 for "American Idol," which also had an 8.3 demo rating. NBC's "Mercy" was second overall with a 4.0/6. CBS' "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and "Gary Unmarried" had a 3.8/6 for CBS, beating ABC's "Modern Family
" repeat and a new "The Middle." Note that ABC and CBS tied for second in the demo with a 1.9 rating. The CW's "Life Unexpected" repeat was fifth.
In the 9 p.m. hour, "American Idol" improved to a 13.7/21 and an 8.7 demo rating for FOX. CBS was a respectable second with an 8.2/13 for "Criminal Minds
," which also came in second in the demo. NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" had a 4.9/8 for third. ABC's "Modern Family" (4.9/8) and "Cougar Town
" (3.5/5) were on the low side, especially "Cougar Town," which also had a 2.4 demo rating, down from its 3.5 demo lead-in. The CW's "Gossip Girl" repeat was fifth.
" won the 10 p.m. hour for CBS, doing a 7.8/13 and a 3.1 demo rating. NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" had a 5.9/10 in its first airing of the season in its new time slot, also averaging a 3.0 demo rating. ABC's Oprah Winfrey-driven Oscar special drew dismal -- i.e. sub-"The Forgotten" -- ratings.
All ratings information comes from preliminary Fast National Nielsen data, which includes live and same-day DVR viewing. All numbers are subject to change.