Of course, the return of American Idol on Tuesday dominated the night, but as Robert reported, it was down about 10% from its season premiere in 2008. Interestingly, the two other shows to go head to head with the Idol premiere both seasons, NCIS and Biggest Loser were both up year to year. By this time last season, the WGA strike was beginning to cause problems with the broadcast schedules, so even while Idol was drawing the spotlight CBS and ABC did better in the 18-49 demo than last season’s Idol premiere night, and NBC was down just a tick. The slight, and expected, Idol erosion plus rebound from the competition should make this spring far more competitive than last year.

Against the Idol assault CBS (NCIS, The Mentalist, Without a Trace) was up for the night vs. last week. Les Moonves is smiling this morning. NBC (Biggest Loser, Law & Order:SVU) was down about 20% in the demos for the night week over week. For ABC, Homeland Security USA was down about 15%, but Scrubs is in the ICU, down 30% in the 18-49 demo from last week. I wrote last week that it was too early for Scrubs fans to be hopeful for the future. Today, the future looks dim. The CW lineup (90210, Privileged) was hurt by Idol, down about 20% in the demos from last week

Full details:

Time Net Show Viewers Live+SD (000s) 18-49 Rating 18-49 Share 18-34 Rating 18-34 Share
8:00 FOX American Idol (season premiere) 27.474 10.4 26 8.8 24
CBS NCIS 18.483 3.8 9 2.2 6
NBC Biggest Loser 7.966 2.9 7 2.6 7
ABC Homeland Security USA 6.040 1.9 5 1.4 4
UNI Cuidado con el Angel 4.698 1.8 5 2.0 6
CW 90210 2.183 1.1 3 1.4 4
9:00 FOX American Idol (season premiere) 32.674 13.1 29 11.1 27
CBS The Mentalist 18.090 3.8 9 2.3 6
NBC Biggest Loser 9.545 3.7 8 3.1 8
UNI Fuego en la Sangre 5.173 2.1 5 2.4 6
ABC Scrubs 4.480 2.2 5 2.5 6
CW Privileged 1.126 0.5 1 0.7 2
10:00 CBS Without a Trace 12.391 2.9 7 1.7 5
NBC Law & Order: SVU 9.660 3.6 9 3.0 8
ABC Primetime: What Would You Do? 7.253 2.9 7 2.6 7
UNI Aqui y Ahora 3.236 1.3 3 1.4 4

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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