Mandi Bierly
January 21, 2009 AT 12:00 PM EST

Barack Obama’s inauguration may be good for America, but it wasn’t good for American Idol. Tuesday night’s audition installment was still the No. 1 prime-time program with 22.4 million viewers, according to overnight ratings — but that’s eight million fewer than what tuned in for last week’s Idol premiere. ABC’s two-hour coverage of the Neighborhood Ball was the second most-watched program of the evening, averaging 12.6 million viewers. Meanwhile, Fox’s Fringe returned with a bang, averaging 12.1 million viewers, a 42 percent increase from its last original airing on Dec. 2. While that’s good news for the freshman drama, it should also be noted that its audience dropped 20 percent from its first half hour to its second. Doing the reverse was NBC’s Biggest Loser: Couples, which grew its crowd as usual hour-to-hour, averaging 8.4 million viewers from 8 to 9 p.m., and 12 million from 9 to 10 p.m. Rounding out the Tuesday night regulars, CBS powerhouses NCIS and The Mentalist took the expected hits airing repeats, while The CW’s 90210 and Privileged recovered from last week’s double-digit ratings dips with double-digit increases (10 percent and 48 percent, respectively).
























Time Show Viewers (in millions)
8 p.m. American Idol (Fox)
The Neighborhood Ball: An Inauguration Celebration (ABC)
The Biggest Loser: Couples (NBC)
90210 (The CW)
11.7 (repeat)
9:00 Fringe (Fox)
Change and Challenge: The Inauguration of Barack Obama (CBS)
Privileged (The CW)
10:00 The Mentalist (CBS)
A Moment in History: The Inauguration of Barack Obama (ABC)
Dateline NBC
10.5 (repeat)

More TV News:

Michael Slezak recaps American Idol

Annie Barrett recaps The Obamas’ first dance as if it was an episode of Dancing With the Stars

Ken Tucker loves last night’s Fringe

Jean Bentley recaps The Biggest Loser: Couples

Clip du jour: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart‘s Changefest ’09 inauguration coverage

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