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.

  • SteveO

    @CarShark, I think X Factor will have huge boost in the fall at the beginning due to judges, then fade slowly through the year. The Voice is losing hype fast fast fast.

  • Robbie

    AWESOME finale for revenge!! Good move to sunday night will increase ratings. Best drama show on tv.

  • Lane

    ABC finales for new shows are going up! Scandal, Revenge, and Apt 23 all up pretty good from their episodes before the finale. And Revenge deserves it SCARY good episode. Hope they maintain these numbers!

  • Lane

    Weird for Apt 23 to go UP against a 6.1 Idol lol.

  • Bob

    What a great year!! Incredible shows!! I think it has been one of the better years all around. Sure some disappointments like Harry’s Law not being renewed, but how lucky we are to have Revenge, the best show on TV. Then we are lucky enough to have American Idol kicking butt year after year with America’s Got Talent and Dancing with the Stars doing so well. Wow, even The Voice is good the first few episodes. And then we have the incredible network called CBS which attracts so many viewers that they have an embarssment of riches. Nobody can put a network together as well as CBS. We are so absolutely lucky to have CBS as a network the provides the best entertainment from NCIS, NCIS-LA, Survior, Criminal Minds, the CSIs, Blue Bloods, 60 Minutes, the comedy hits on Monday and Thursday. Everyday is a perfect day jam packed with CBS shows. Sure I do watch a few other networks like Fox for American Idol, NBC for America’s Got Talent, and ABC for Revenge and Shark Tank. I guess I am just blessed to have such a wide range of great television…we all are. I am also one of the all important demos who make sure that CBS is on the 18-49 year old radar.

  • Lane

    The voice will always have stellar ratings for the auditions and then float down to about low 3’s for the live shows. And Xfactor will probably hit 5’s this year. Idol will hit low 3’s next year for who won the show again.

  • Steve-A

    Wow Bob. You’re really into tv.

  • rob60990

    “even a 2.0 and 9 million would make idol money.”

    Your delusional if you think a 2.0 would make American Idol money. Do you know how much the judges and Seacrest make in a season?

  • Jeff

    Loved Revenge, but I think it’s time to start having Emily/Amanda and Nolan start showing some remorse for all of the carnage that is being caused, especially the unintended stuff, otherwise, they will start to lose all sympathy, at least with me. And, it may be just me, but Jack is my least favorite character by far, and I definitely don’t want him with the real Amanda. They write him as completely inept, and she would be bored with him super quick. Finally, wishful casting….daytime soap opera vets Kassie DePaiva would be a great choice for her missing mom, and another OLTL/GL vet Gina Tognoni who bears a strong resemblance to the real Amanda would be a great older sister that she doesn’t know about. Both those ladies were awesome at protraying bitch heroines who could have people hate them and love them at the same time.


    Revenge is hands down the best show on TV. It proved it has an amazing creator Mike Kelley who gave us more twists and turns all year. The pilot was good but it so could have veered off course. You see a show like the Ringer that was so hyped but so poorly plotted. Revenge went the opposite brilliant direction. Madelaine Stowe is the best bitch on TV in years and this finale was chilling, thrilling, edge of your seat and gasping. It left me so angry I have to wait until September. Everyone bashed ABC’s move to Sunday and while Revenge did well in that slot something no other show has done its a smart move to give it that high profile slot DH had for eight years. They can grow the show more with a better lead-in and they should massivley promote Revenge all summer. This show is TRULY THE BEST SHOW ON TV. Anyone agree?

  • Bob

    Sadly probably a bit too much. I just really enjoy it though….keeps me out of trouble. lol.

  • Fake Me Out

    I’m curious about the Scoreboard table and the last network … X? It’s so secret it’s ratings are X’d out too. Is this the XXX Network? Or perhaps just a new cable channel, XNet … they only air shows with X in the title … X-Files, Ancient X-Files, X-Men, X-Factor, Xena … wow, TV is really getting fragmented … :-)


    On the Idol front we have to remember last season Idol was still the only music show. The Voice had launched but Idol still reigned surpreme. Idol still had the highest viewing of the season. Numbers are down on TV. I think the show needs some tweaking but not completely changing too the point of it backfiring. Anyone network would KILL TO HAVE IDOL. Its still the best music show has launched the biggest careers and is the most legitimate and these shows can’t even compare. My prediction the X Factor has some solid premiere ratings and drops to cancellation. I bet Simon Cowell will be begging for his Idol job back. Honestly FOX and Simon should realize the best thing for SC is a return to the show that made him famous and is the best fit which is Idol. Anyone agree Simon will be begging for his Idol job back after X Factor is cancelled next season?

  • Ultima

    My prediction the X Factor has some solid premiere ratings and drops to cancellation. … Anyone agree Simon will be begging for his Idol job back after X Factor is cancelled next season?

    Right. The X Factor is FOX’s second highest rated show after American Idol. Sure, it didn’t pull the ridiculous numbers that the hype suggested, but FOX was still way, way up this fall (+17% year-to-year). The X Factor won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

  • Steve-A

    @bob. LOL nothing wrong with it at all. There are horrible things you could be doing in lieu of it so enjoy.

  • CookyMonzta


    Entertainment show, bah! This show used to pride itself on being THE number 1 show, PERIOD, entertainment or otherwise! No longer! I imagine the finale ratings will be readjusted to something like 6.3/19 and 21.4 million, very close to what I predicted based upon their first show’s draw (7.4/19 and 21.9 million). If this show drops another 30% next year, it won’t even be the top ENTERTAINMENT show! And to be quite blunt, I consider FOOTBALL entertainment!

    I’d give the show another 2 years, 3 at the most. I still believe they will not want to wait until the show starts drawing under 10 million at ANY point during a season. If one of their telecasts draws that few, they will consider making that season their last. Better to go out with dignity than to go out with a whimper.

    14 to 15 million will probably be their cutoff (they’re down to 19 million now). Any lower than that next year, and they will start considering a move to cable or pulling the plug entirely. If sponsors walk (and I do believe one of them will), I expect a smaller production to follow.

    Trust me; they will not want to humiliate themselves by continuing with an average of 12 million and falling, and probably finishing a season in 12th place. Decent, though it may be, for ANY show, that is just not Idol!

  • Tessa

    The Idol overrun made me so mad. Here I’m waiting for members of my family to get off the couch and let me watch my show (Revenge) only to find out the thing will run 7 minutes longer than the allotted 2 hours. WTF? FOX do that intentionally to screw over other networks even in the 10:00 pm time slot? Isn’t it enough that we had to tolerate their crap for two hours?

    Needless to say I wouldn’t have it. My DVR was set to record two shows at 10 so folks had to pack and go upstairs and watch their amazing reveal (young white dude winning for the 5th time, what a shocker!!!) on the bedroom TV.

    The day that all this reality nonsense finally bites the dust can’t come sooner. Not in my lifetime I’m sure, but soon.

  • HB


    I agree with you.Jack is the LEAST character I like along with Delcan.And lately I have been more into Team Graysons then Team Emily/Nolan.

  • CookyMonzta

    As for the notion that any show would kill to have Idol’s numbers, let’s put this to rest right now: THEY’RE NOT THAT FAR OFF TODAY! They will achieve that next year without breaking much of a sweat!

  • alexjones

    haha, and people were saying that revenge would crash. AI is slowly but surely dropping, a 6.1 is still way above anything else that is on but it considerably down from last year, next year will probably be even worse.

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