8:17am PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: 'American Idol' Swan Song Starts Steady (and Low) for Fox
This is the way American Idol ends, not with a bang — and not really with a whimper, either.
Fox's humbled juggernaut kicked off its 15th and final season Wednesday with an average 3.0 rating among adults 18-49 and 10.9 million viewers. And while both of those stats do mark lows for a season opener, they're both pretty much in line with last January's return. Some were likely hoping for a boost, given all the marketing pomp around the final season, but steady is not a bad scenario either.
Idol made a similarly steady return last season with a 3.2 rating in the key demo and 11.2 million viewers — though all of the headlines that day belonged to the unexpectedly off-the-bat success of Empire, which drew an even better showing among adults 18-49 after Idol.
The Fox singing competition show also topped the night in the key demo, outpacing its closest competition (ABC's Modern Family) by two-tenths of a point in the key demo. Idol's network won't be addressing its same-day stats, but the tail of post-live viewers likely won't do much for the show's numbers. Reality still trails scripted significantly with the DVR and streaming set.
Idol was hardly the lone premiere on Wednesday — it wasn't even the only American one. ABC launched the new season of American Crime after its comedy block. The Emmy-favored anthology saw no real ratings uptick on the new night. It nabbed a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49 after the network's comedy block returned with originals. Steady episodes of The Middle (2.1 adults), The Goldbergs (2.1 adults) and Modern Family (2.7 adults) led into a much-boosted Black-ish (2.1 adults). The latter was up 24 percent from its previous original.
Over on CBS, the People's Choice Awards again proved that the people really do prefer other award shows. It took a 1.3 rating in the key demo and 6.6 million viewers. That was after the new Wednesday block of 2 Broke Girls (1.7 adults) and Mike & Molly (1.6 adults). The good news there is that 2 Broke Girls was pretty much in line with its Thursday showing, successfully opening the night for the network.
NBC had a steady episode of The Mysteries of Laura (1.1 adults) before lifted outings of Law & Order: SVU (1.8 adults) and Chicago P.D. (1.9 adults). For the latter, that's a best in over a year and a 36 percent jump from its last original.