If the networks' intent was to hasten the decline of their reality competition shows, pitting their finales on the same night was certainly one way to go.
As expected, the first head-to-head finale showdown of NBC's "The Voice" and ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" impacted the numbers for both on Tuesday, with the Peacock series taking the bigger hit and closing with its smallest young-adult audience to date for a season-ender. It was a busy night overall for reality programs, and Fox stumbled badly with the first part of a two-night "American Idol" finale and a tiny turnout for the debut of "I Want to Marry Harry."
On the other hand, CW's "Supernatural" stood out as the only scripted broadcast series on Tuesday, spiking more than 30% week to week as it wrapped its ninth season.
According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, "The Voice" averaged a 3.3 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 and 11.6 million viewers overall from 9 to 11 p.m. -- an eight-week high and easily the night's top show in demos, but still down 25% from its spring 2013 finale (in mid-June). It was also down 18% from its fall finale in mid-December (4.0 in 18-49, 14.01 million).
Head-to-head, it beat ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" by 38% in both 18-49 and 25-54. "The Voice" was up from its Monday performance finale (3.3 vs. 3.2), while "Dancing" was down a bit (2.4 vs. 2.6).
This is the first time NBC has timed the finale of a spring edition of "The Voice" for the end of the television season, meaning that for the first time, it went directly up against the "Dancing" finale (traditionally the last Tuesday of the season); the shows have also never overlapped on finale nights in the fall, as the singing competition has a longer season and wraps about three weeks later.
"Dancing With the Stars," which had something of a bounce-back spring cycle and closed the gap with "The Voice" in their head-to-head Monday performance episodes, finished Tuesday with a two-hour average of 2.4/7 in 18-49 and 14.9 million viewers overall. In adults 18-49; this is down 10% from its May 2013 closer, but on par with its most recent fall finale last November (2.4/7).
And in total viewers, "Dancing" -- Tuesday's No. 1 program -- was down slightly from last spring (15.20 million) but up a bit from November's fall finale (14.75 million).
In the night's opening hour, a special recap of the final live performances of "The Voice" (1.9/7 in 18-49, 7.4 million viewers overall) won the hour in demos over Fox's part 1 of a two-night "American Idol" finale (1.7/6 in 18-49, 6.6 million viewers overall).
Even though "Idol" was airing on a special night, its performance-finale numbers on Tuesday illustrated just how far the show has fallen. Last year, on its regular night of Wednesday, its two-hour performance finale did a 3.0/10 in 18-49 and 12.11 million total viewers. And in 2011 and 2012, when it aired on Tuesday, the "Idol" performance finale did a big 6.4 and 4.4, respectively -- meaning last night's 1.7 is down 61% from two years ago and 73% vs. three years ago.
In addition to trailing the "Voice" recap show, it also barely edged out ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" recap special in the same hour (1.6/6 in 18-49, 11.4 million viewers overall).
A telling number is the adults 18-34 rating for all three shows in the 8 o'clock hour, which had the taped recap specials of "The Voice" (1.3) and "Dancing With the Stars" (1.2) besting "American Idol" (1.0). In another reality showdown, the finale of "American Idol" airs tonight on Fox opposite the season-ender of CBS' "Survivor."
On Tuesday, "American Idol" was followed by the series premiere of "I Want to Marry Harry," which did a mere 0.7/2 in 18-49 and 2.1 million viewers overall.
At CW, "Supernatural" (1.1/3 in 18-49, 2.3 million viewers overall) rose week-to-week by 38% in 18-49 and by 32% in total viewers (2.3 million vs. 1.74 million). A repeat of the series opened the night (0.5/2 in 18-49, 1.2 million viewers overall).
CBS aired a pair of low-rated specials: "Judge Judy Primetime" (0.9/3 in 18-49, 5.7 million viewers overall) and "ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute to the Troops" (0.9/3 in 18-49, 4.5 million viewers overall).
Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 2.8/9; ABC, 2.1/7; Fox, 1.2/4; CBS, 0.9/3; CW, 0.8/3.
In total viewers: ABC, 13.7 million; NBC, 10.2 million; CBS, 4.9 million; Fox, 4.3 million; CW, 1.7 million.
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