'Idol" Still On Perch, Makes VOD Debut

American-IdolFox's "American Idol" starts up its 11th season as TV's still-biggest show -- although down substantially from a year ago. The day after its season debut, the network announced that for the first time, the show would now be available on a video-on-demand time-shifted basis.

A number of cable, satellite, and telco operators will be offering each of the show's audition, performance and results on their video on demand services three days after each "Idol" airing on Fox.

This includes Armstrong Cable, AT&T's U-verse, Bright House Networks, Cablevision Systems Corp, Cox Communications, Mediacom, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS and Xfinity TV.

For its 11th season debut, "Idol" was down 24% to a 7.4 rating/19 share among 18-49 viewers, and 21.9 million overall viewers, according to Nielsen preliminary results. A year ago, at the start of its 10th season, "Idol" was at a 9.8 rating and 26.3 million viewers.

Kevin Reilly, president of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting, said at the recent Television Critics Association meeting he expected a drop in "Idol" numbers this season.

A year ago, "Idol" was down 4% for its regular schedule Wednesday performance shows to a 8.0 18-49 rating versus 2009. Thursday result shows were down a bit more, 10% to a 6.9 rating.

Still, "Idol" gave Fox an easy win on Wednesday night.

ABC was well behind in second place, with a 3.0/5 average 18-49 rating on the night. Its best results came with its still high-flying "Modern Family," which dipped a bit to a 5.0/12 at 9 p.m. down from a 5.1 the week before.

In the wake of the expected big "Idol" opening, CBS took a back seat with a repeat of its sturdy high-rated drama "NCIS" at 8 p.m. The network's best offering came from "Criminal Minds," which took in a 3.2/8 down from a 3.4 rating for its last original episode in December. For the night, CBS posted a 2.5/6.

NBC was well off the pace of the other networks -- a 1.5/4 for its Wednesday night average. Its two new comedies this year, starting at 8 p.m -- "Whitney" and "Are You There, Chelsea" --  suffered 20% of more declines against "Idol," getting a 1.6/5 and a 1.8/4, respectively.

CW also lost ground in the 8 p.m. hour from "Idol." "One Tree Hill" dropped over 20% to a 0.7/2 from its season debut numbers a week ago. A reality show repeat of "Remodeled" took in about half of "Tree" results, at 0.3/1.

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