Simon Cowell made a solid return to Fox last night, but his new show The X Factor was no match for the Dunphys and Pritchetts (and a far cry from American Idol).
X Factor debuted to 12.5 million viewers and a 4.4 adults 18-49 rating, while ABC’s Emmy-winning Modern Family delivered 14.3 million viewers and a whopping 6.0 series-high rating. The reality competition drew about half the audience of the most recent season opener of American Idol (which delivered about 26 million viewers and a 9.7 in the demo), a point of comparison that’s inevitable, but also arguably unfair given the top-rated legacy of the other show (though Cowell himself invited the comparison in July, when he suggested to reporters that the new show might top Idol).
X Factor was significantly higher, however, than the debut of NBC’s fall singing competition The Sing Off, and was higher than the debut of Hell’s Kitchen in the slot last year. While a one-hour Modern Family not only won the night, but was up 18 percent from its premiere last fall.
“We’re happy with the numbers,” Fox’s president of alternative Mike Darnell tells EW. “The expectations were ridiculous, and internally this is our best numbers for a Wednesday during premiere week in 13 years. If we can keep anywhere close to these numbers for 40 hours in the fall, it would be amazing for us.”
Modern Family helped power ABC’s new drama Revenge (11.4 million, 3.4) to a strong opening at 10 p.m., winning the hour and marking the network’s best debut in that slot in four years. Meanwhile Modern Family’s lead-in The Middle (9.6 million, 3.0) had a series high too.
Over on CBS, Survivor (10.3 million, 3.4) dipped a bit for Week 2, but stalwart crime veteran Criminal Minds (14.1 million, 4.1) was actually up a tenth of a point. The real drama is at 10 p.m., however, where Ted Danson made his debut as the new star of CSI (12.6 million, 3.1) with the show in its new time slot. CSI had a fine number for a 10 p.m. show, but was beaten by Revenge and was down 9 percent from its premiere last year.
On NBC, new comedy Up All Night (6 million, 2.3) had a rough transition from having an America’s Got Talent lead-in and no competition last week to having to jump start NBC’s night in its new time slot against X Factor. The comedy was down 38 percent, but this still isn’t a bad number given all the circumstances. The same can’t be said for Free Agents (3.9 million, 1.2) at 8:30 p.m. And the same definitely can’t be said for the premiere of Harry’s Law (7.6 million, 1.2), down an endangering 45 percent.
On The CW, H8R (1.1 million, 0.4) was down 33 percent from its premiere; America’s Top Model (1.6 million, 0.7) was down 22 percent.
So here’s the big “What Do You Think?”: X Factor viewers, let’s hear it.