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.

  • salim

    wow from 9.2 to 6.1 they lost around 3.1

  • Bunny

    American Idol is soo predictable and boring..anyone notice a pattern of AI winners in the last 5 years: David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips..


  • toadytoady

    Its 1.9 for SVU.
    Thats a rise in total numbers too, 6.9….highest since before Christmas with Spiraling Down.

  • AV

    I agree w the message above by Jeremy Gable, It has been the same type of winner on American idol from Lee,Kris, to now Phillip. It seems great that they should win but the problem is they don’t sell and they are not the most entertaining to watch on TV. I did enjoy the little country showdown between Scotty and Lauaren last year, at least it was a different genre! If they don’t switch directions next year with this show then it could be heading down and fast!

  • SteveO

    Hey @Max, please put [spoilers] before you say stuff like that about Revenge. Kthanks.

  • Dave

    I honestly was completey riveted and awestruck at how REVENGE crammed so many twists and turns into its final 60 minutes!! My friends and I were literally yelling back at the tv at some points. haha I dont think tv has been this fun to watch since MELROSE PLACE back in the 90’s

    Go REVENGE!!!! :-)

  • OMG

    I came in thinking it would be okay if Revenge can keep its 2.0, especially going up against the most watched portion of Idol, which is the results reveal. I am even prepared to see “Revenge Hit Lows” once again, so imagine the pleasant surprise when I saw the 2.4 rating. That is really cool. I know CSI is off, which may help a bit, but still, I’m so happy. By the way, @ Max, I did watch Scandal and I feel that it definitely improved over the episodes and I will most likely continue to watch the next season too.

  • Ram510


    Scandal got a 2.4 in preliminaries just like Revenge. Revenge could be be adjusted down too.

    I can’t believe Apt 23 was up by so much, it wasn’t a very good episode

  • just an ordinary SPN fan


    so many revenge fans here…

    so many lows for finales…

  • rick

    The only thing interesting about the Idol finale was guest roster, not the contestants or who won. Actually the finale star-power was less than past finales though.

    Modern Family is still funny, but not quite as funny as it has been.

    Good to see a scripted non-cop and non-medical do as well as Revenge is doing.

  • MoHasanie


    Yeah, for a few minutes during it, I was really wondering where the story would go from here, but now they are keeping the story going by claiming Emily/ Amanda’s mom is still alive and then the plane crash was very shocking.

  • greysfan

    Awesome for Revenge. That finale was absolutely brilliant and the writers and actors did a magnificent job and now its up to ABC to promote it for Sundays next season. Also despite being the lowest ever 6.1 and 20m viewers is still massive and any other network would love these numbers. Modern Family was great last night too. Now the anxious wait till September.


    Revenge last night was AMAZING, BRILLIANT, MINDBLOWING AND Mike Kelley is just plain amazing. PURE UTTER BRILLIANCE WAS SET ON TV LAST NIGHT. Revenge deserves the award for best drama. It killed me with its brilliance. WOW I am just still gasping from it. I think moving Revenge to Sunday is a good decision. Much higher profile slot.

    Idol we all knew would be done this year. 21 million is still great for an eleven year show. Tell me how many shows still do this in their eleventh season.

  • SteveO

    The Revenge writers definitely know how to bring an audience back for more.

  • MoHasanie


    Its unlikely, because I’m sure Revenge started at 10pm exactly. On the other hand, Grey’s always overruns into Scandal by 2 minutes.

  • Mike

    Revenge did big! but of course this site has to have negatives in the title only, so no mention of revenge’s impressive ra

  • Fred

    ABC did fine against the still very powerful Idol. Revenge also achieved more than acceptable ratings at 10:00. Local FOX newscasts enjoy high ratings after Idol. Both FOX and ABC should be pleased. CBS and NBC weren’t really in the competition .

  • dennis

    top model was a “highlights episode”

  • Mike


  • s0303

    regardless of how far it fell this year, ai is still impressive…a 6.1 with a show in its 11th season is pretty amazing…

    happy that apt 23 went up…i enjoy it much better than mf…

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