Call it American Idol audition fatigue.
Some Idol fans, presumably weary of off-key screamers and off-kilter dreamers, tuned out last week's first-round audition finale.
The so-called "Best of the Rest" installment drew the Fox show's lowest ratings of the season, per the latest Nielsen Media Research rankings.
Granted, where the rarified Idol is concerned, "lowest ratings" is a relative term. An awful lot of people—27.9 million, on average—watched last Wednesday's show, which placed second for the week.
Still, the episode, featuring previously unaired auditions from Idol's seven scouted cities, was the first this year to fail to top the 30-million-viewer mark.
Tuesday's Idol, by comparison, was its usual giant self, averaging 33.4 million (first place) for the sights and sometimes-rough sounds of San Antonio, Texas.
As of this week, Idol turns its focus on singers who, almost exclusively, can carry, if not belt, a tune. The season's 24 semifinalists will be revealed in the episode set to air Wednesday.
In short, it's probably safe to tune back in.
Here are some more ratings highlights from the TV week ended Sunday:
- In retrospect, it was more impressive when ABC's Lost (19th place, 14.5 million) was drawing nearly 20 million viewers, and losing to American Idol. Getting beat at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays by CBS' CSI: NY (15th place, 15 million) just doesn't have the same panache.
- In a key Monday battle, NBC's Heroes (17th place, 14.6 million) was tops among young-adult viewers; Fox News Channel's, sorry, Fox's 24 (22nd place, 13.6 million) was tops at Karl Rove's house.
- CBS' Survivor (12th place, 16.4 million) must pack its own fan base because the premiere of its Fiji season didn't cut into either ABC's Ugly Betty (20th place, 14.3 million) or NBC's My Name Is Earl (41st place, 9.5 million) and The Office (45th place, 8.8 million).
- CBS' CSI (fifth place, 22.5 million) holds the season-to-date edge as TV's most-watched scripted series. ABC's Grey's Anatomy (third place, 25.2 million) is gaining, fast, on CSI.
- Yes, the Grammy Awards (sixth place, 20 million) were up, but the CBS telecast didn't come close to matching Idol, and it almost got matched on Sunday night by ABC's Desperate Housewives (eighth place, 18.1 million).
- The ABC bride-gazing special In Style: Celebrity Weddings (76th place, 6 million) was a bust, i.e., it couldn't even beat NBC's Studio 60 (59th place, 7 million).
- In cable, Anna Nicole Smith loomed large. On Wednesday, the day before Smith's death, CNN's Larry King Live averaged 798,000 viewers; on Thursday, the show averaged 2.5 million. Fox News Channel's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (1.3 million on Wednesday; 2 million on Thursday) and Headline News' Nancy Grace (678,000 on Wednesday; 976,000 on Thursday) experienced similar surges.
- SciFi Channel's Battlestar Galactica (1.5 million viewers) proved itself worthy of a fourth season.
Overall, CBS' older-skewing slate of crime dramas amassed more eyeballs than Fox's younger-skewing slate of American Idol hopefuls. As such, CBS won the sweeps week in total viewers, averaging 14 million, while Fox won the sweeps week among 18-to-49-year-old viewers.
Fox (11.9 million) finished second in viewers, followed by ABC (10.1 million) and the waiting-for-next-football-season NBC (8.8 million).
The CW (3.4 million) finished ahead of the WB and UPN, which don't exist anymore, and thus are the safest things for the new network to compare itself against.
Here's a look at the 10 most-watched prime-time shows for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research:
- American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 33.4 million viewers
- American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 27.9 million viewers
- Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 25.2 million viewers
- House, Fox, 24.9 million viewers
- CSI, CBS, 22.5 million viewers
- 49th annual Grammy Awards, CBS, 20 million viewers
- CSI: Miami, CBS, 18.4 million viewers
- Desperate Housewives, ABC, 18.1 million viewers
- Two and a Half Men, CBS, 17.7 million viewers
- Deal or No Deal (Monday), NBC, 17.4 million viewers