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.

  • zerg


    Surprise??..last year almost tie and this year thanks to Superbowl nbc wins by 0.1

  • Joseph

    6.1 and the ratings noted for Idol would be good if FOX averaged $85k per 30 second spot like ABC or NBC , but they charge $250k on average so you sort of expect a little more bang for your buck.

  • Ryan W.

    That Revenge finale was probably the best season finale of any show I have ever seen… It was AMAZING.

  • Rodolfo


  • Bob

    Name a show on for 11 years that is getting the ratings that Idol is getting. It is not dying like some of you folks are saying. Most networks would love to get a 6.1 rating. Stupid NBC mostly gets 1.5 if they are lucky especially on dismal Thursday.

  • Bee


    i will never understand ratings, but whatever. good for the middle and modern family for holding up nicely enough. hopefully the strength of the finales and the summer repeats help them recover some lost ground from this terrible spring.

    but APT. 23 at a 2.5!?! YES YES YES!!!!!!!!!! i was just thinking yesterday about how worried i was that it would die on tuesdays since it had lost so much steam from its premiere thanks to a mixed reaction for the early episodes and idol competition and all that nonsense that brought it down to around 2.0 for a few episodes. but hooray comeback! and i too wish the HE and apt. 23 block all the success and high ratings in the world!

    and REVENGEEEEEEEEEEEEE! HALLELUJAH! best finale of this TV season! never would’ve imagined that it go past 2.2 even if it was lucky. awesome! and besides general excellence, i also thank the great promo for the finale. calling it “jaw-dropping, incredible, etc” kind of built the hype itself. and i give ABC an A+ for their promotional efforts for the show this season. they promoted it all summer, give it a BIG modern family lead-in, continued to promote it very well w. good promos, aired a recap special in the spring and even termed it a “new” episode, and saved the last 6 episodes to air consecutively. now they need to be smart and adjust their scheduling for next season. no episodes against golden globes or grammys please!

  • christy

    I thought Criminal Minds was really good last night,

  • Bee

    and count me in as another person DONE with american idol. 5 years of the same damn winner is enough. and this just proves that the reason the 2 night finale last year went from 6.4 to 9.2 was because of biggies like beyonce performing. this year, it got a more normal bump. next season will premiere to around a 6.4.

    the REAL test for all these reality shows will come now that they’re all done and their contestants are making albums. idol struggled to make successful artists when it was a BEAST. now that it’s way down and the voice and x-factor do even worse, we’ll see how the albums do. if they ALL flop, well then the reasons for watching are even lower than ever.

  • JJ

    Revenge finale was PERFECT! I couldn’t have hope anything better and i think that ending was amazing and it built great expectations for season 2…can’t wait!

  • joel

    I just had to laugh out loud at the final moments of Revenge because that makes three of my series this year – Hawaii Five 0, Grimm, and Revenge – that used the exact same season ending revelation/cliffhanger.

    The series hero/heroine, darkly troubled by the past murder of his/her parents, is shocked to find out that his/her mother is still alive!

  • Joseph

    I never said that Idol was dying , but rather asking the question if their ad rates are going to take a significant hit after only delivering 2/3 of the previous years demo.

  • CarShark

    Max, I imagine both Revenge and Scandal will get a huge amount of press before next year. ABC has enough confidence in both to have them come after Once and Grey’s, their two most popular shows, so they’ll do their best for both.

  • were123

    I just saw Revenge’s finale and all I have to say is this: SO MUCH F*** WIN!!!!!! It was the most amazing finale I’ve watched since Fringe’s 3rd season finale!

  • MoHasanie

    haha, good point @Bee ; The promo was quite good and all those adjectives they used to describe it were true.
    Actually, they show the Revenge promo so much throughout the night and it gets slightly annoying to see it in every other break.

  • Revenge4ever

    Wow Revenge was outstanding last night! So many cliff hangers, I can’t wait for season 2! Keep spreading the word around on how brilliant Revenge is!!!

  • roco

    @Rob, always a hater, trying to compare botb shows, they both on the same network,.they both got renewed, so stop comparing both shows hater..

  • rob60990

    @roco, I’m not the 1 who started the whole Revenge/Scandal comparisons.

  • Tested

    Good numbers for idol’s finale considering where it has been this season.

  • Hal

    Wow! People sure love Revenge! That’s good. Maybe ABC will split the season next year into 2 11 episode blocks. that would be an intelligent way to build the audience…but do “intelligent” and ABC scheduling really mix?
    I suspect they’ll finish the hatchet scheduling job they started this year and by mid-season it’ll be around 1.4. I thinkt he quality will be great, but the network just can’t seem to handle the serialized type genre.

  • Matthew

    Good for REVENGE!!! <3

    LOVE how REVENGE was up 1M+ and 4 tenths up from last week! Last nights epp was explosive and so shocking and thrilling! This is what I mean… REVENGE is a quality, explosive, thrilling, mystery drama that gets average ratings (AVE. 7.8M) and other shows such as Scandal, Castle, and Parenthood dont get ANY Emmy nominations AT ALL. Instead, the derogative, raunchy, disgusting cable shows such as the horrible SHAMELESS, and the shows all about people whipping each other SPARTACUS and GAME OF THRONES and othere dramas such as BREAKING BAD, which is all about an old professor who makes his own chrystal meth get ALLL THE AWARDS! This is absolute BS! I charish the days when quality television such as ER, Grey's Antatomy, NYPD Blue, and Rescue Me would get all the wins and nods because they were GOOD SHOWS, and now the GOOD SHOWS get what?… thats right NOTHING. totally ridiculous. *sigh* :(

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