January 26, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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Welcome back to Network Scorecard, where we consider the perplexing case of AMERICAN IDOL.
FOX:  It’s now clear that the biggest story of the 2011-12 television season is the slump in established reality-competition franchises.  Idol joins Dancing With the Stars and The Biggest Loser with a nearly 30% decline from last year’s Wednesday average.  Of course, given the heights of that average, Idol‘s 6.4 rating last night would still make it the highest non-football series of the season, and the show will no doubt thrive for many seasons to come.  But the moment of its unquestioned dominance, and that of its genre, may have passed.  (Most nervous network today:  NBC, which has the all-important The Voice waiting in its wings.)   The Idol platform was enough to launch TOUCH with a very impressive 3.9, although it should be noted that the only network airing original competition against it was CBS (and even with the enormous Idol lead-in, Touch only beat Criminal Minds by 0.3), and that Touch won’t air again until March 19, when in its regular Monday slot it won’t have that huge lead-in.

NBC:  Even with Idol‘s decline from last week and repeats airing on ABC and CBS, both WHITNEY and ARE YOU THERE, CHELSEA plummeted still further to twin series low 1.4 ratings.  The network doesn’t have much to replace them with, so those may be NBC’s numbers there for quite a while.  (If either series is somehow renewed for next year, it will mean the comedy development at NBC is horrific.)  Back-to-back SVU reruns drew little interest.
CBS:  While the network waits for the new cycle of Survivor to get started, it ran a repeat CRIMINAL MINDS at 8PM, and then, without a 2-hour Idol on the night, the new Minds at 9PM was up 0.4 from last week.  That led in to a season-high 3.3 farewell to Marg Helgenberger on CSI, which will soon debut Elisabeth Shue as her replacement.
ABC:  A night of repeats, with MODERN FAMILY logically enough on top, and the serialized REVENGE equally logically bringing up the rear.
CW:  ONE TREE HILL held very nicely (by CW standards) with a 0.7, and REMODELED continued not to interest anyone with a 0.3.
Tonight is a mixed bag of repeats and originals.  ABC’s only new show will be WIPEOUT, and CBS similarly airs new programming 8-9PM only.  NBC has made the odd decision of putting a fresh 30 ROCK at 9PM as lead-in to a repeat UP ALL NIGHT, which then leads to an original (albeit moribund) THE FIRM.  FOX is all new, and CW is already disrupting the just-back-from-hiatus VAMPIRE DIARIES and SECRET CIRCLE with the terrible theatrical movie THE COVENANT

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."