The American Idol finale averaged 28.8 million and a 10.0 rating among adults 18-49 in time zone adjusted preliminary numbers between 8pm-10:07pm.  Last year’s  two hour Wednesday  finale drew 30.6 million and a 11.0 rating with adults 18-49 in preliminary (non time zone adjusted) numbers.  In the final live plus same day ratings numbers for last year’s finale,  Idol wound up at 31.7 million and an 11.4 adults 18-49 rating.  Since the time zone adjusted preliminary numbers will likely track closely with the finals it looks Idol was down around 9% in total viewers and 13% for adults 18-49.   DVR viewing beyond the same night might bring things a little closer to last year, but we won’t know for a few weeks.

For anyone who cares, in the NON time-zone adjusted numbers, Idol averaged 27.71 million and a 9.6/27 (rating/share) with adults 18-49 between 8pm-10pm.

Only CBS even tried to put up a fight, with finales of Old Christine, Gary Unmarried and a two hour Criminal Minds finale (which performed admirably, given the circumstances!)

Update: data now included below and I’ve included the half hour data, plus the final seven minutes for Idol (check out those last 7 minutes!) Please note the Idol data is time-zone adjusted but the other shows/networks data below isn’t…

Previous Wednesday overnight reports are available for comparison.

Full details:

Time Net Show 18-49 Rating/Share 18-34 Rating/Share Viewers (Millons)
8:00 FOX American Idol Finale (8pm-10:07) 10.00 7.6 28.84
CBS New Adventures of Old Christine (Finale) 1.6/5 1.0/4 5.65
NBC Law & Order: CI 1.1/3 0.6/2 4.96
ABC Movie: Pirates of the Carribean (Dead Man..) 1.0/3 1.0/3 3.42
CW Movie: Take the Lead 0.4/1 0.4/2 1.24
8:30 CBS Gary Unmarried (Finale) 1.7/5 1.0/3 5.55
9:00 CBS Criminal Minds (Finale) 3.1/8 1.9/6 12.40
ABC Movie: Pirates of the Carribean (Dead Man..) 1.2/3 1.1/3 3.27
NBC Law & Order: SVU (R) 1.0/3 0.7/2 4.30
CW Movie: Take the Lead 0.5/1 0.5/2 1.30
10:00 CBS Criminal Minds (Finale) 3.9/10 2.2/7 15.17
NBC Law & Order 1.9/5 1.4/4 6.70
ABC Movie: Pirates of the Carribean (Dead Man..) 1.3/3 1.2/3 3.58
8:00 American Idol Finale 7.80 6 23.22
8:30 American Idol Finale 8.90 6.6 26.53
9:00 American Idol Finale 10.50 7.8 30.13
9:30 American Idol Finale 11.70 9 32.85
10:00-10:07 American Idol Finale 14.90 11.8 40.10

Shows are sorted by Adults 18-49 rating in each time slot.

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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