TV Ratings Wednesday: 'American Idol' Lowest-Rated Finale Ever, 'Modern Family', 'SVU' & 'The Middle' See Finale Lows

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May 24th, 2012


Adults 18-49: Rating/Share 6.1/18 2.6/7 2.0/6 1.5/4 1.4/4 0.4/1
Adults 18-34: Rating/Share 3.7/12 2.0/7 2.2/7 0.9/3 1.0/3 0.3/1
Total Viewers (million) 20.708 7.298 4.953 5.875 5.383 0.891


FOX was the number one network among adults 18-49 and total viewers.

On FOX, American Idol's finale results show earned a 6.1 rating, which is down 32% from last year's finale (which earned a 9.2/26, with 29 million viewers) and is the lowest-rated finale ever for the series. However, the finale was up from last week's results show, which earned a 4.9 adults 18-49 rating.

On ABC, The Middle finale scored a 2.0, which is down 5% from last year's finale but up a tenth from last week's 1.9 among adults 18-49. Modern Family's finale  also was up a tenth from last week, earning a 4.0, but was down 5% from last year's finale. Don't Trust the B in Apt. 23 was up considerably from last week's series low 1.9 rating, earning a 2.5 rating for its season finale. The finale of Revenge earned a 2.4 adults 18-49 rating, up four tenths from last week's series low 2.0 rating.

On NBC, Betty White's Off Their Rockers got a 1.5 adults 18-49 rating down a tenth from last week's 1.6 rating. At 10PM the finale of Law & Order SVU , which had a repeat of the show as a lead-in, earned a 1.9 adults 18-49 rating which was up from last week's 1.7 rating but is the series' lowest-rated finale ever.

On the CW, America's Next top Model scored a 0.4 among adults 18-49, even with last week.

CBS was all repeats for the evening

Late-night results are below the primetime data.

Overnight ratings for Wednesday, May 23, 2012:

Time Net Show 18-49 Rating 18-49 Share Viewers Live+SD (million)
8:00PM FOX American Idol (8-10 PM) 6.1 18 20.708
ABC The Middle 2.0 7 6.505
CBS The Big Bang Theory -R 1.5 5 5.587
NBC Betty White's Off Their Rockers 1.5 5 5.473
CW America's Next Top Model -R 0.3 1 0.895
8:30PM ABC Modern Family -R 2.0 6 6.034
NBC Betty White's Off Their Rockers -R 1.5 5 5.331
CBS Two and a Half Men -R 1.2 4 4.413
9:00 PM ABC Modern Family 4.0 11 9.988
CBS Criminal Minds -R 1.6 4 6.378
NBC Law and Order: SVU -R 0.9 2 3.772
CW America's Next Top Model 0.4 1 0.917
9:30PM ABC Don't Trust the B in Apt. 23 2.5 7 5.743
10:00PM ABC Revenge 2.4 6 7.758
NBC Law and Order: SVU 1.9 5 6.976
CBS Criminal Minds -R 1.6 4 6.246

via NBC press note:

In Late-Night Metered Markets Wednesday night:

  • In Nielsen's 56 metered markets, household results were: "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," 2.7/7; CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman," 2.4/6; and ABC's combo of "Nightline," 3.2/8; and "Jimmy Kimmel Live," 1.5/5. 
  • In the 25 markets with Local People Meters, adult 18-49 results were: “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” 0.8/4; "Late Show," 0.6/3; "Nightline," 1.0/4; and "Jimmy Kimmel Live," 0.5/3.
  • At 12:35 a.m., "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" (1.4/5 in metered-market households) beat CBS's "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" (1.3/4).  In the 25 markets with Local People Meters, "Late Night" (0.5/3 in 18-49) topped "Late Late Show" (0.3/2).
  • At 1:35 a.m., "Last Call with Carson Daly" averaged a 1.0/4 in metered-market households and a 0.4/3 in adults 18-49 in the 25 markets with local people meters.

NOTE: All ratings are "live plus same day" from Nielsen Media Research unless otherwise indicated.
Nielsen TV Ratings: ©2012 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

You can see TV ratings from other recent Overnight ratings reports here.

Definitions: Fast Affiliate Ratings: These first national ratings, including demographics, are available at approximately 11 AM (ET) the day after telecast, and are released to subscribing customers daily. These data, from the National People Meter sample, are strictly time-period information, based on the normal broadcast network feed, and include all programming on the affiliated stations, sometimes including network programming, sometimes not. The figures may include stations that did not air the entire network feed, as well as local news breaks or cutaways for local coverage or other programming. Fast Affiliate ratings are not as useful for live programs and are likely to differ significantly from the final results, because the data reflect normal broadcast feed patterns. For example, with a World Series game, Fast Affiliate Ratings would include whatever aired from 8-11PM on affiliates in the Pacific Time Zone, following the live football game, but not game coverage that begins at 5PM PT. The same would be true of Presidential debates as well as live award shows and breaking news reports.

Rating: Estimated percentage of the universe of TV households (or other specified group) tuned to a program in the average minute. Ratings are expressed as a percent.

Share (of Audience): The percent of households (or persons) using television who are tuned to a specific program, station or network in a specific area at a specific time. (See also, Rating, which represents tuning or viewing as a percent of the entire population being measured.)

Time Shifted Viewing – Program ratings for national sources are produced in three streams of data – Live, Live+Same Day (Live+SD) and Live+7 Day. Time shifted figures account for incremental viewing that takes place with DVRs. Live+Same Day (Live+SD) include viewing during the same broadcast day as the original telecast, with a cut-off of 3:00AM local time when meters transmit daily viewing to Nielsen for processing. Live+7 Day ratings include incremental viewing that takes place during the 7 days following a telecast.

For more information see Numbers 101.

  • S

    Yay, Revenge went up! That should be in the title of the post.

  • SJ

    Wow, great for Revenge! So much for the 7-minute Idol overrun hurting it. I really expect it to hit a new series high when it debuts on Sundays this fall.

    Also very good for Apartment 23. I wish the Happy Endings/Apartment 23 block all the luck in the world!

  • Steph

    Yay for Revenge!

  • Jj

    Let me guess, a hits guy won over,……well does it really matter who he’s up against

  • Dave

    Dear Revenge, good luck on sunday. I really hope you kick some butt.

  • forg

    This is a disappointing spring for ratings across the board :(

  • Jenny

    @ Jeremy Gable
    “Posted May 24, 2012 at 8:57 AM
    Surprised Idol was even that high when the same type of dude wins every single season. Just watch auditions and pick out the white dude who plays a guitar. No need to watch the rest of the season (or the finale for that matter) to know who wins.

    you are right, the viewers and voters of American Idol are cougars and teeny booper little girls.

    so the show now does not pick good winners, trouble for Fox

  • Jj

    ” white “

  • Victor Hugo

    Ok for The Middle, good for Modern Family, apt 23 and Revenge.

  • MoHasanie

    Yay, Revenge rose!!! Such an incredible episode last night, with so many cliff hangers. Definitely the best finale this year. I don’t think I’ve ever liked a finale that much for any soap, probably since DH’s season 1 finale.

    MF was hilarious last night, and I loved it, especially when there at the hospital and it was like a Spanish soap. And, I really liked the small twist at the end with Gloria.
    Even The Middle was good too.

    Didn’t watch Apt 23, but nice to see it rise. Hopefully it can keep those ratings in the fall after HE.

    Not bad for Idol. For me, this was the first time this year, that I didn’t even bother watching it. I just checked online after Revenge to see who won.

  • Ron

    @ S, they tend to focus more on the negative

  • SteveO

    I’m really surprised that Apt 23 held up so well from 9:30-10 seeing as that was the end of Idol (even though it did overrun into like 10:07).

    Probably adjusted down too, cause MF overran like 2 minutes.

  • Dean_W

    It’s a 1.9 or a 1.7 for ‘SVU’ ???

  • toadytoady

    Good numbers for SVU in the context of demo figures since January.
    Thats the highest demo for 10 weeks, tied with Father Dearest.
    Theatre Tricks got 2.0 in january.

    So its good for a night when other finales dropped.You cant compare with last year…different circumstance for SVU and NBC and networks in general.

    Hey Bill,I think this time there really was an allusion to TVbythenumbers cancellation bear in the Finale..a little grey teddy bear that pops up his head in the brothel scene!!!Check it out!

  • gerry

    abc did a great job against idol. hooray for revenge! best. season. finale. period. if it maintains the audience it has (which it obviously will) and gains some of the DH audience, it should thrive on sunday. especially w. the once upon a time lead in. shout out to bitch as well!

  • Max

    I hope REVENGE is given a downward adjustment in the finals.

    In terms of what folks were saying about the episode… does anyone really believe the show intends to ACTUALLY kill off the person who is first billed and received the show’s only award (nomination only of course) attention this season. People don’t really buy that, do they?

    Others did say they thought it was a solid finale though. Not my cup of tea but whatever.

  • Reality

    Same for Me !
    What an amazing way to end it (with Florence + The Machine song , played all over the closing montage.) INCREDIBLE PERFORMANCES By Madeleine Stowe and Emily VanCamp. I’m still shocked!

  • Steven Leitner

    Welcome to Low City. Population: SO MANY GOT-DANG SHOWS FALLING TO FINALE LOWS!

  • forg

    what show will air after MF reruns this summer? HE or Apt 23?

  • MoHasanie

    Yeah, MF did overrun, so that should mean its even with last year’s finale.

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