Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera will just have to accept it: America loves them equally.
That's one possible takeaway from Wednesday's ratings, anyway. NBC's "The Voice" and Fox's "X Factor" split the musical-competition audience to tie for first place in the ratings as they aired opposite each other for the first time, according to preliminary numbers. Fox won the night overall.
It wasn't a direct competition, because "The Voice" aired from 8 to 9 p.m. and "X Factor" from 8 to 10 -- and "The Voice" won in the hour they went head-to-head. The temporary, premiere-week expansion of "The Voice" to three nights seems to have cut significantly into the audience for "X Factor": The Fox show's season 2 premiere ratings were down 25 percent from its season 1 premiere.
The premiere featured the debut of new "X Factor" judges Spears and Demi Lovato, who were supposed to inject new energy into the show after the jettisoning of Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger after the show's first season. The original "X Factor" premiere -- which also featured quickly replaced judge Cheryl Cole -- debuted to a 4.4 rating last season in the crucial 18-49 demographic.
But this time around, "X Factor" had to face "The Voice," with a judges' panel that features Spears' sometime-rival, Aguilera.
Fox's primetime slate, consisting entirely of "X Factor," took first place in the demo with a 3.3/10 in the demo, and second place in total viewers with 8.5 million. NBC, meanwhile, came in second in ratings with a 2.7/8 for the night and first in total viewers with 8.9 million. At 8, "The Voice" scored a 3.9/13 and 10.7 million total viewers. At 9, the first part of the "America's Got Talent" season finale posted a 2.9/8 for third place behind "The Voice" and "The X Factor." It was down 24 percent in the demo from the first part of last year's season finale, but was the most-watched show overall Wednesday with 11 million total viewers.
A preview of the new series "Guys With Kids" at 10 received a 2.2/6 in the demo -- a 41 percent drop from last September's preview of "Up All Night" -- and drew 6.3 million total viewers. A repeat of "The New Normal" rounded out the night at 10:30. CBS came in third in ratings and total viewers with a 1.5/5 and 6 million. With the exception of "Big Brother" at 8, which drew a 2.0/6 and 6.1 million, the network ran repeats. ABC, which ran repeats throughout the night, took fourth place in ratings and total viewers with a 0.9/3 and 3 million.