Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen returned to the line up on Thursday, and while it slipped from its season premiere last year, along with American Idol, Fox had plenty to lay a beat down on the competition for the night.

A Thursday appearance of American Idol overwhelmed the repeat competition at 8pm, grabbing more than half the English language broadcast audience and adult demos for the hour. The CW’s Smallville was up down a tick in each demo from last week.

The season premiere of Hell’s Kitchen at 9pm was down about 1.5 million viewers from its season premiere last year and 0.7 rating points in the 18-49 demo, but it was up against different competition (more on CBS with CSI, less on ABC with a Grey’s repeat), so it’s hard to make a guess at the long term levels. Update: And as alert commenter Joseph points out, it was by far the earliest season premiere for the show. Last year’s April 1 premiere being the next earliest. For a Thursday season premiere, Fox tells us it was the network’s best showing in nine years. CSI with Lawrence Fishburne won the viewer and adults 18-49 demo title for the hour, but it had only repeat Grey’s competition. The CW’s Supernatural was up gaining half a million viewers and several demo ticks from last week.

Without a fresh Grey’s Anatomy lead-in, Private Practice plunged at 10pm. Losing the adults 18-49 demo to Eleventh Hour, and taking the adults 18-34 demo with a weak 2.6 rating.

Update: I typically don’t comment on rerun numbers, but the fact that a new Burn Notice on USA, NBC’s corporate teammate, tallied a 2.0 ratings for adults 18-49 and 5.38 million viewers compared to a 1.7 and 4.53 million for a rerun of E.R. is noteworthy.

Here are some additional details about the night from FOX and The CW.

For comparison here are last Thursday’s fast affiliate results.

Full details:

Time Net Show Viewers Live+SD (Millons) 18-49 Rating/ Share 18-34 Rating/ Share
8:00 FOX American Idol 24.266 9.3/25 8.0/23
CBS Criminal Minds (Repeat) 9.025 2.0/5 1.5/4
UNI Cuidado con el Ángel 4.836 1.9/5 2.3/7
NBC My Name Is Earl (Repeat) 4.835 1.8/5 1.4/4
CW Smallville 4.178 1.7/5 1.5/4
ABC Ugly Betty (Repeat) 3.967 1.0/3 0.9/3
8:30 NBC Kath & Kim (Repeat) 3.286 1.4/4 1.3/4
9:00 CBS CSI 20.081 5.4/13 3.5/9
FOX Hell’s Kitchen (Premiere) 11.077 4.9/12 4.6/12
NBC The Office (Repeat) 5.798 2.7/7 2.8/8
ABC Grey’s Anatomy (Repeat) 5.537 1.7/4 1.4/4
UNI Fuego en la Sangre 5.508 2.2/5 2.6/7
CW Supernatural 3.575 1.6/4 1.5/4
9:30 NBC 30 Rock (Repeat) 5.041 2.2/5 2.2/6
10:00 CBS Eleventh Hour 12.703 3.2/8 1.9/6
ABC Private Practice 7.665 2.8/7 2.6/7
NBC E.R. (Repeat) 4.538 1.7/4 1.4/4
UNI Rosa de Guadalupe 3.583 1.5/4 1.6/5

Shows are sorted by viewers in each time slot. Timeslot demo winners are in bold.

Nielsen TV Ratings: ©2009 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.


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 which are currently in approximately 24.4% of all U.S. TV households. 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.

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