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.

  • Ana

    Awesome for Revenge. That was, hands down, the best season finale this year. It was a phenomenal, phenomenal episode. Even when the plot twist was hardly original, like Amanda showing up pregnant, it was completely unexpected. And Emily going all kung-fu fighting on the bad guy and then sparing his life was a killer twist. Just, everything about this episode was outstanding. Even the music which so perfectly complimented what was unfolding on the screen.

  • Ron

    I think Idol needs another overhaul. They need to change the voting system. 132 million is just ridiculous. Considering out of the 17 million that watched Tuesday night even if half of them voted that means the average person voted at least 15x and I know many that voted hundreds of times. Just crazy.

    I would say combine the scores with the judges like DWTS and The Voice and that might allow someone else to win. Although this season Phillip was never in any danger and for all we know he was the top vote getter every week so even the Judges scores wouldn’t have likely sent him home during his worst week.

  • Julie

    As soon as I saw Neil Diamond appear (apparently doing a spot-on William Shatner impression), it was obvious that Idol was going for the highly coveted 81-99 demo.

  • toadytoady

    SVU FInale beat Smash Finale.
    Thats worrying for Smash so no wonder they are holding it back to reinvent?
    Smash got 1.8 key demo and 5.9million viewers.
    SVU got 2.0 key demo and 7.1million viewers.

  • CookyMonzta

    Wrong. NBC and FOX football drew in big ratings, maybe in the 18-49 market, but never quite enough to beat Idol in TOTAL viewership. This show has been a runaway #1 show from 2006 to 2011, and deservedly. But the gas tank is now running dry. You said it yourself; shows don’t last forever at the top.

    My “hate” for the show is nonexistent and even irrelevant. If the show had drawn an 8.0/20 and 27 million for the finale, I would have applauded them for doing their job. Unfortunately the announcement of the stars appearing at this year’s finale didn’t impress the viewers like it did last year or even the year before. Like I said before, this is not the Idol we have come to know in years past.

    And by the way, Joseph has a point, very nearly the same point I’m trying to make: With 1/3 of its audience gone in a single year, how will FOX justify asking for the same amount for a 30-second ad spot? They are sure to be forced to accept a pay cut (or the sponsors will walk) next season.

    The problem we have here is, despite the obvious, that the show is thoroughly in its dying phase, people are looking for the most infinitesimal reason to say that it is #1 in SOMETHING (although it is no longer #1 in the A.C. Nielsen Ratings (TM)). I have absolutely no problem with the show staying on the air while it is still earning money for FOX or 19 Entertainment; but you cannot discount the possibility that, once the ratings drop to a level intolerable to the average viewer, let alone the execs, they might choose to pull the plug, rather than tarnish the legendary image it has had and continue as little more than a novelty That is why myself and so many others predict that they might just do that.

    Trust me; I’d rather it go out while still drawing 14 to 15 million viewers and remaining in the top 10, rather than watch it stay on while reduced to a footnote drawing 7 to 12 million and dropping to 20th or even 30th in the ratings.

  • CookyMonzta


    They will NEVER change the system, even as the show drops from relevance. They are clamoring for 200 MILLION votes in a finale! That just rings major $$$$$$ for the show…

    …which is THE major problem I have had with the show. It slowly became less and less about the contenders and their dreams of stardom, and it became more and more about advertising, the bottom line, and the glitz. I thought they were on their way to avoiding the lure of the glitz and glamour when they introduced Idol Gives Back in 2007. I thought wrong, especially when you consider that they couldn’t keep it going.

  • CookyMonzta


    My suggestion, if there needs to be an overhaul, is to have separate competitions for the guys and girls, every week until there is one guy and one girl left. Start the main competition with 16 guys and 16 girls, and knock off 2 guys and 2 girls every week until there are 8 guys and 8 girls. Then knock off one guy and one girl every week until the championship.

    The whole process will take 12 weeks (16-14-12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1). they would have to have Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday shows until they get down to 7 guys and 7 girls, and the competition shows might have to be 2 1/2 hours until the get down to 10 guys and 10 girls.

    If there is anything to keep this show’s ratings from dropping to the point where it is no more than a novelty (3.0/9 and 12 million would be such a threshold), they should pursue it. But they should avoid the temptation to change a rule that would make it even more of a novelty.

  • Networkman

    @Reality, I agree with you. In my opinion, Revenge had the best finale this month. If these women(Madeleine Stowe & Emily VanCamp) don’t get Emmy nominations, then I’ll know the system is rigged.

    I stopped watching Modern Family regularly because imo it turned into The Dunphy family show. The creators seems as if they are trying to make Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen leads. And imo, Ty’s character is obnoxious. So too much of him is not a good thing for the quality of the show. And I’ve heard many people comment on how the two of them were horrible hosts at the Billboard Music Awards.

  • Networkman

    @Matthew, because it seems as if the Emmy’s have become a big promotional platform for cable shows. So it is helping cable shows, which will always have a niche audience, gain some viewers. It does not “celebrate” those broadcast shows that the majority of audiences watch on a regualar basis. Just because something may not be original does not mean it is not of qualiy. And broadcast shows get overlook because they are not “out of the box”. Yet broadcast shows have to try and appeal to the masses. I would love to see all dramas nominated from broadcast networks this year. This would help bring viewers back to the award show as well.

    1. Revenge
    2. Once Upon A Time
    3. Person of Interest
    4. The Good Wife
    5. Fringe

  • Justin121


    I agree. Those broadcast shows (excluding OUAT) aren’t less worthy of an Emmy than cable shows. The Good Wife and Revenge, especially. I hear Fringe had a weak-ish season. One Upon A Time is just way too cheesy. It might get costume/make-up noms (even those aren’t outstanding) but certainly not best drama or writing.

  • Patrick G.

    I’m glad “Revenge” was up since it is my favorite guilty pleasure. I am concerned that it will drop when it moves to Sundays, though, unless “Once Upon a Time” as a lead-in can boost it? But frankly, I was very disappointed with the season finale. The plane crash at the end was very predictable, and of course Victoria got off at the last minute over a guilty conscience or an argument with someone. Duh! And the fake Amanda returning pregnant with Jack’s baby was beyond frustrating!! Would it have killed the writers to throw the audience and Emily a happy bone and let her have her moment with Jack?! I felt very cheated and almost don’t even want to watch any more. BOOO!!! :(

  • Chris Parker

    Revenge is by far my favorite new show on TV this year, closely followed by Once Upon A Time and Scandal; ABC really hit a home run with these shows!

  • aciel

    @Max ur just denying the fact that REVENGE is ten times and even 100 times better then SCANDAL. SCANDAL is not even half the quality REVENGE is so ha that just shows how awosome REVENGE if it could even pull a better rating then scandal even in the american idol finale it still managed to beat scandal. so don’t even compare this crappy show scandal with revenge. and besides revenge isn’t as hyped up as u claim it is. SO MAX DO ME A FAVOR AND LEAVE REVENGE ALONE and find a new show to bash on. if u dont stop bashing on revenge then i will start bashing on scandal and besides everyone i know hates scandal.

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