American Idol returned to the top of the Nielsen ratings list last week, but with lower ratings than at any time since 2002. While some TV columnists had speculated that the fireworks between judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey would boost the show's flagging ratings, the opposite appears to be the case, with hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of complaints posted on social-media websites about the two divas' wrangling. According to final figures, Wednesday night's telecast attracted 16.1 million viewers, while Thursday's slipped to 15.6 million. While such figures would ordinarily be considered solid, they were a far cry from the days when the talent contest routinely attracted more than twice that many viewers. (The May 21, 2003 telecast averaged 38.1 million, the highest-rated, Idolshow.) Moreover, several top-rated shows that often push up against or pass the 20-million mark, like CBS's NCIS, The Big Bang Theory, and Criminal Minds, were in rerun mode and were likely to top Idol when they resume airing original episodes. The evening newscasts continued to line up in the usual order. NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams averaged 9.2 million viewers for the week. ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, placed second with 8.3 million, while The CBS Evening News with Scotty Pelley trailed with 7.2 million. Overall, CBS retained its crown as the most-watched network with an average household rating of 5.8 and a 9 share. Fox ranked second with a 4.1/6. (It led among the key 18-49 age group.) ABC placed third with a 3.7/6, followed by NBC with a 3.4/5.
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 9.3/14; 2. American Idol (Thursday), Fox, 8.8/14; 3. NCIS, CBS, 8.2/12; 4. NCIS: Los Angeles, CBS, 7.8/12; 5. 60 Minutes, CBS, 7.6/12; 6. Criminal Minds, CBS, 7.5/11; 7. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 7.4/12; 8. The Big Bang Theory, CBS, 7.3/11; 9. 2 Broke Girls, CBS, 7.1/10; 9. Pro Bowl Game, NBC, 7.1/11.