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.

  • Ron

    You did bash it Max, you said you hoped it was adjusted down. why? It seems like you get off by lurking around every Thursday just so comment on how Revenge is not a huge hit and how Scandal is better. Please try to bring something new and intelligent to the conversation.

  • HB

    @Jeff @ Luke Boston

    Yeah.It can be Takeda’s as well.But since its the “GOOD BOY” Jack, he is just going to believe whatever Faux-Amanda is going to say!

  • Max


    I did. See my last post. And I don’t only post on Thursdays via lurking. I comment on quite a few shows on other days as well.

  • Ultima

    This show used to pride itself on being THE number 1 show, PERIOD

    When was the last time American Idol was the #1 show, period? 2008? The NFL on FOX and CBS has been ahead for a while and now NBC SNF (which happens to be in primetime) is ahead as well. That doesn’t change the fact that FOX still views American Idol as the #1 show (it’s the most watched entertainment program and highest rated Live+SD entertainment program) nor the fact that the show generates, and will continue to generate, a massive amount of revenue for FOX.

    Your hate for the show is fueling your delusion that they’re going to cancel it once it drops below some arbitrary level of viewers or overall rank so they can save face. That’s ridiculous. Shows don’t stay on top forever, but they stay on the air if they keep making money.

  • Justin121


    So much for Idol crushing it.

    #9seasonsandamovie :D

    A Spring high, I beleive (since March).

    Was this a season high for Idol?

    A 6.1 and 20 million is impressive.

    Modern Family had a 6.1 and -I beleive- 14 million for the season premeire.

  • TimsDale4ever

    Wow, IDOL over a 6.0. I can’t remember when I’ve seen that kind of rating on a weekly show. Advertisers must be charging the he!! out of FOX.

  • Evan

    So glad for revenge. I was losing interest ever since they resolved the flashforward scene from the fort episode but man the last 2 episodes were so good and the finale was amazing beyond belief. One of the best finales I’ve seen on Broadcast tv in a while. Wish the ratings were higher but can’t complain 2.4 on wed at 10 when idol rAn over is amazing. And the ratings could have been better if abc didn’t mess with the scheduling so much. They really need to fix that for next year. The show suffered so badly from that big break

  • K


    And wow, that Modern Family repeat after The Middle scored almost just as much viewers as The Middle finale

  • jassica

    i think idol did great 20 million is great even the voice or x factor cant get it

  • Susanna H

    SVU’s had the lowest and slowest finale ever! I wish they would just stop when shows go way beyond their freshness date. Next year at an earlier timeslot and up against Criminal Minds its gonna really get ugly. Ratings have been dismal this year and lower as the season went on. It can’t even muster a 2.0 against a rerun.

  • yujin

    Yah! Revenge up!

  • JS

    I posted the following RE: an article on another site with the headline: “American Idol Has Lowest Rated…Finale.” I hate these idiot bloggers that know nothing and just write spewage:

    How do morons like Tim Malloy get their “blogs” or whatever the heck this is…on Yahoo and other sites? First thing WRONG is that Idol has been number 1 for 6 straight seasons – not 8- which is still an ALL TIME RECORD (CSI was number 1 in ’04-’05). This year AI extend the record to 7 straight years. 2nd of all: AI’s finale – 6.3- in an OVERSATURATED marketplace – only caused by other networks trying to COPY the success of Idol- and it still destroyed The Voice’s Finale (4.4) and every other copycat. AI is the ORIGINAL. There is NOTHING wrong with the show. The show has MORE than proven its legitimacy with REAL Superstars. The BMAs had 3 great performances from Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Jordin Sparks– all Idol winners. What other ‘talent’ show comes close? Name 1 winner or 1 contestant from any other show…and you can’t. Idol has had 13 alumni with over 1 million albums sold. Tim Malloy is a moron. THAT should be the headline of this article and, if that was the case- it would NOT be misleading (as it currently is).

  • sally

    i prefer to watch shows like criminal minds,hawaii 50,law and orders and mentalist and shows like those.i dont like realthy showsat all

  • fran

    Revenge was brilliant, absolutely incredible. I am so happy it went up in ratings. I think that if ABC does things right, it could thrive next year after Once Upon a Time. Sundays will becoe ridiculously crowded for me! Once Upon a Time, Revenge, The Walking Dead, Dexter, Homeland, The Good Wife, it’s insane! Anyway, I think Emily Van Camp had one of her best performances yet as Emily yesterday, she had such a wide range of emotions going through the entire hour and she showed them all in a credible way. Props also to the always amazing Madaleine Stowe. Agree with a previous commenter: best TV bitch in years, her scene with Ems gave me chills. As for the mum: please ABC, make a dream come true: Elisabeth Mitchell, she would be perfect and I miss her on my screen! Please, please, please! And she would have the phisical resemablance thing going for her as well! Pleease

  • scifi

    Idol is dying.

  • Petar

    Adults 18-49
    FOX: 3.2/9
    CBS: 3.0/8
    NBC: 2.5/7
    ABC: 2.4/

    NBC BEAT ABC in demo in 2011-2012 season……lol. That is little surprise. How many people laugh of NBC. now ABC is 4-th.

  • Joseph

    To keep things in perspective for American Idol lets just compare last years Performances and Finale vs this year from Top 7 down. if you compare the 2 years you will see the basic trend mostly continued but with only 2/3 of their previous audience.
    I would love to know how this is impacting what FOX can charge for their 30 second spots now , and if their average network average of about $250K per spot went down in the upfront.

    Top 7 – 7.1 / 20 vs 4.8 / 14
    Top 6 – 7.1 / 20 vs 4.8 / 14
    Top 5 – 6.6 / 19 vs 4.7 / 14
    Top 4 – 7.1 / 20 vs 4.5 / 13
    Top 3 – 7.4 / 20 vs 4.9 / 14
    Top 2 – 6.4 / 19 vs 4.4 / 14
    Final – 9.2 / 26 vs 6.1 / 18

  • Petar

    ps I guess strong sundays and mondays make the difference. Also good tuesdays and fridays! wed and thur are worst NBC days.

  • ron

    Idol 20 millions and 6.1 is still good, Revenge :bow the finale was amazing!

  • rob60990

    @Petar, The Super Bowl is the only reason why NBC is 3rd.

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