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.

  • Reality


  • Ron

    Go away Max

  • Jeff R

    I have the entire seasons of Revenge and Happy Endings on DVR. I’m looking forward to watching them this summer. So many of you make Revenge sound awesome. Can’t wait!

  • were123

    Those are awesome numbers for Revenge!!!! So happy that it went on a high note :D

  • Overdamoon

    Congrats Revenge!!!

  • cbanks

    Can someone tell me why ANTM is still on the air?

  • awdanskii

    So happy SVU went up. It was an AMAZING season finale and what a cliffhanger! I wonder how this will affect next season. SVU’s best episode in WEEKS!

  • Daniel

    And yet somehow every year the final voting results keep growing lol. The whole process is so silly. American Idol did have a talented cast of singers this year though…much better than recent seasons.

  • Chuck_T

    I have to say–Betty White’s Off Their Rockers is pretty consistent for NBC.

  • RyanT

    I love all the people complaining about the lack of diversity of AI winners. I have a feeling the majority of you don’t even vote. Now I don’t watch AI and vote which also means I don’t talk about (i.e. complain) about the winners. Kind of simple, doesn’t it?

    (I realize SOME people complaining do watch the show and do vote. You guys have the right to complain or rant.)

  • Anne Carol

    SVU was great in the end.

  • Bunny

    I’m glad the ratings for Apt 23 are up!

    I also wish them and Happy Endings the best in a very competitive time slot this fall.. I hope they don’t follow the Community route and be up in their own ***..both shows needs to accessible to new viewers and also find a good balance with older fans who love their quirky humor..

  • Steve-A


  • Aerilyn

    Soooooo happy for Apartment 23 and REVENGE! Brilliant, brilliant season finale last night.

    Also, Modern Family was great! Surprise twist at the ending was awesome.

  • Sarah

    I’m glad Revenge went up, excellent finale.

  • zerg

    Idol still big even with a drop year to year of 3 points :S

    MF, The Middle almost tie last season finale

    nice jump for Revenge and Ap23…hope that both will perform well in the fall..Go Revenge!!

  • CookyMonzta

    OY!!! 6.1/18 and 20.7 million! I knew it was coming the day their first show posted 21.9 million. Fasten your f#&%@$’ seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen, because this could very well be THE ABSOLUTE VERY LAST TIME YOU WILL EVER SEE 20 MILLION VIEWERS FOR IDOL! A 5th male winner in a row is a recipe for more viewers to head for the exits!

    I have said this before, and I will say it again: Advertisers will be completely unwilling to pay the extraordinary fees that Idol demands! $500,000+ is now about to be flushed down the toilet! If Idol is not willing to accept $250,000, they will pull their advertising and sponsorship!

    WHO ARE THEIR BIGGEST SPONSORS? I would not even be surprised if COCA-COLA pulls the plug on Idol! If they lose Coke, the other big-time sponsors will drop like dominoes. It would not surprise me if Idol LOSES money next year…

    …That’s because their 18-49 demo (which hit an all-time low of 3.9 this year, with several 4.0s) will surely tank, into the low-3s and maybe into the 2s! If Idol draws less than 10 million for one show, or ranks worse than 10th for one week, they’d best pull the plug to avoid more embarrassment. They are already a half-season away from going out in a whimper, and I’m pretty sure the top brass don’t want that.

    Better for them to go out with a respectable 15 million viewers, if they can even manage that next year. If their first show of the 2013 season draws less than 15 million, I think the 2013 season WILL be their last, because the season average will surely drop. They will finish this year at #3, with Wed./Thurs. shows combined (an average of just over 19.0 million). NBC Sunday Night Football and NCIS will beat them.

  • DW

    even a 2.0 and 9 million would make idol money. it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. its a cash cow.

  • Ultima


    Idol is still the highest rated entertainment show on TV, with a 5.2 overall rating (and 5.4 for Wednesday), beating Modern Family (5.0).

    It’s not going anywhere and it’s sponsors are not going anywhere. Sure, there will be changes (which is normal after big year-to-year drops), but it is still an extremely successful show, even at these ratings.

  • CarShark


    I was thinking the same thing, but I guess it was kind of silly to expect it to jump so much after spending most of the spring in the 4s. That doesn’t bode well for X Factor or Voice in the fall.

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