NBC's nice start to the season continued Wednesday when it relaunched "Revolution" on its new night to time-period improvement and used an expanded episode of "Law & Order: SVU" to close strong. ABC won in young adults behind "Modern Family," which was the dominant program of the night in demos but came in noticeably softer than last year.
The Alphabet's new comedy "Back in the Game" -- Wednesday's only series premiere -- did reasonably well between "The Middle" and "Modern Family," while the net's "Nashville" had a good-enough return opposite tougher than usual drama competition but was down from last year.
CBS' veteran lineup of "Survivor," "Criminal Minds" and "CSI" was off its year-ago pace, though the net still prevailed in total viewers. And though Fox's "The X Factor" continues to be down from last year, it perked up to a season high in its third week.
According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, "Modern Family" averaged a 4.1 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 and 11.4 million viewers overall to stand as easily the night's top broadcast show in 18-49 and 25-54 while also finishing narrowly on top in total viewers. Still, it was down about 25% from its year-ago half-hour premiere.
Earlier, "The Middle" (2.4/8 in 18-49, 8.8 million viewers overall) similarly lost steam for the Alphabet, off about 15% from its opening half-hour of last year. And newbie "Back in the Game" followed with a 2.2/7 in 18-49 and 7.9 million viewers overall, a solid hold of its lead-in and competitive in its timeslot in 18-49.
"Back in the Game" outperformed every episode of "The Neighbors," "Suburgatory" and "Family Tools" to air Wednesdays at 8:30 last year for ABC.
Closing the night for ABC, the second-season premiere of "Nashville" (2.1/6 in 18-49, 6.6 million viewers overall) was off 25% from its season premiere of last fall (2.8) but finished above its season finale from May (a 1.9 in the demo).
Fox's "The X Factor" (2.5/7 in 18-49, 7.6 million viewers overall) grew 14% above its opening two Wednesdays of the season, but that still left it down about 25% from last year.
NBC was again the growth story and had its best opening Wednesday of the season in three years. "Revolution" (1.8/6 in 18-49, 6.8 million viewers overall) improved on the net's year-ago comedies in the timeslot by about 20% and drew its largest overall audience since late March -- topping its final nine episodes of last season.
This was the first time the drama was airing without a lead-in from "The Voice," and a reduced rating was expected as it shifted to a new night and time. The 1.8 is about in line with its final-month average of last spring (1.9) when it still enjoyed a "Voice" lead-in. It did a 4.1 with its series premiere in mid-September of last year.
From 9 to 11 p.m., the 15th-season opener of "Law & Order: SVU" impressed with a 2.7/7 in 18-49 and 9.5 million viewers overall, rising nearly 30% above its year-ago premiere in 18-49 (2.1) and drawing its largest overall audience since November 2011. After trailing ABC, CBS and Fox among adults 18-49 in its first hour, the 2.9 average for its final hour put it comfortably ahead of "CSI" and "Nashville."
"SVU" was especially strong among the 18-34 half of the 18-49 demo, with its 2.5 rating in adults 18-34 repping a three-year high -- and up more than 50% from last year.
At CBS, "Survivor" (2.3/7 in 18-49, 9.4 million viewers overall) was down from its premiere of last week and off about 25% from last year, but was still in the hunt for the hour's 18-49 lead (neck and neck with ABC and Fox) while winning in adults 25-54 and total viewers.
"Criminal Minds" hung in there at 9 (2.8/8 in 18-49, 11.3 million viewers overall), off about 10% from last year and a solid second in 18-49 and 25-54, and just a bit behind "Modern Family" in total viewers. The extra hour of "SVU" seemed to put the squeeze on "CSI," which returned to a lower 2.1/6 in 18-49 and 9.0 million viewers overall.
Next week, new drama "Ironside" debuts in the 10 p.m. slot for NBC. And at ABC, "Super Fun Night" bows at 9:30 p.m., following "Modern Family."
Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 2.8/8; Fox, 2.5/7; CBS and NBC, 2.4/7; Univision, 1.4/4; Telemundo, 0.4/1; CW, 0.3/1.
In total viewers: CBS, 9.9 million; ABC, 8.8 million; NBC, 8.6 million; Fox, 7.6 million; Univision, 3.5 million; Telemundo, 1.1 million; CW, 0.9 million.
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