NBC's "Smash" and ABC's reality show "The Taste" dropped to series lows on Tuesday night, while Fox's "American Idol" was down from last week but propelled Fox to a ratings win. CBS skated to victory in total viewership, according to preliminary numbers.
The ratings victory for "Idol" wasn't quite ironclad, however; for the first time ever, CBS's "NCIS" bested the singing competition in the key 18-49 demo during the shows' common 8 p.m.-9 p.m. hour. "NCIS: L.A." also bested "Idol" in total viewers during their common 9 p.m.-10 p.m. hour -- also a first.
"American Idol," which filled Fox's primetime slate, dropped 11 percent from last week in the advertiser-cherished 18-49 demographic, earning a 3.4 rating/9 share. It had 11.5 million total viewers. Despite the demo dip, the "Idol" numbers were strong enough to put Fox in first place for ratings and second in total viewers.
CBS took second place in ratings and first in total viewers with a 2.6/7 and 15.2 million. The total viewership win was due largely to "NCIS" at 8 p.m., which took the night's second-best ratings with a 3.3/10 and was the most-watched show with 20.3 million total viewers. "NCIS: L.A." the following hour posted a 2.8/7 with 15.9 million total viewers. A second preview of the new drama "Golden Boy" at 10 dropped 11 percent from last week's preview, drawing a soft 1.6/5 and 9.3 million total viewers.
Univision drew third place in ratings and fourth in total viewers with a 1.8/5 and 4.3 million.
ABC came in fourth in ratings and third in total viewers with a 1.3/4 and 4.6 million. "Celebrity Wife Swap" at 8 plunged 38 percent from last week's season premiere for a 1.5/4 -- a series low for celebrity editions of the series -- and took 4 million total viewers. "The Taste" the following hour dropped 14 percent from last week to its own series low of 1.2/3 and had 3.2 million total viewers. "Body of Proof" was even with last week to tie a series low of 1.2/4 and took 6.5 million total viewers.
NBC took fifth place in ratings and total viewers with a 0.9/3 and 3 million. Following a repeat of "Betty White's Off Their Rockers" at 8, a best-of edition of the prank series posted a 1.1/3, down 15 percent from last week's airing, and had 3.6 million total viewers. "Go On" at 9 was flat with last week to tie a series low of 1.1/3 and took 3 million total viewers. "The New Normal" at 9:30 dropped 10 percent to tie a series low of 0.9/2 and took 2.4 million total viewers. "Smash" at 10 slid 22 percent to a new series low of 0.7/2 and drew 2.6 million total viewers.