Ratings: X Factor Misses the Spot, Debuts Well Below Idol Numbers; ABC Has Very Good Night

Simon Cowell recently said, “You don’t compete for the silver or the bronze. You may not get the gold, but you die trying.”

Well, this Thursday morning he woke up to a mixed alloy, as the X Factor premiere fell well shy of American Idol numbers, lost audience throughout its two-hour run, and in total viewers placed third in the 9 o’clock hour behind Criminal Minds (which was on par with its year-ago opener) and a double helping of Modern Family (aka the night’s most-watched and top-rated program).

The X Factor Series Premiere: What Was Your Favorite Act? Take Our Poll!

Based on household ratings, X Factor was “up” versus Idol‘s own series premiere — but that aired in the summer of 2002, if you and Ryan Starr remember. Compared to Idol‘s first “in-season” premiere as well as its most recent season opener, X Factor was down sharply.

With the fast nationals now in, and going hour-by-hour….

8 pm | X Factor led in viewers/the demo, followed by Survivor (10.4 million/3.1, dipping from premiere). The Middle (9.6 mil/3.0) gained versus its previous premiere and matches its all-time demo high. Moving to its regular (maybe now temporary?) time slot, NBC’s Up All Night (6 mil/2.3) plunged from last week’s AGT-inflated sneak preview, as did Free Agents. The CW’s H8R is now mustering barely a million viewers, while its demo hit an unhead-of 0.4.

9 pm | Modern Family (14.3 million/6.0) topped all of Wednesday in both measures, building on last year’s opener by 13 and 20 percent, respectively. It was followed by Criminal Minds‘ 14.1 mil/4.1 (on par with a year ago), then the back end of X Factor. Harry’s Law (7.3 mil/1.2!) tumbled hard no matter how you slice it – versus its Monday freshman premiere or what SVU did here a year ago. Top Model (1.6 mil/0.8) slid 18 and 11 percent.

10 pm | Ted Danson’s CSI (12.6 mil/3.1) won the hour in viewers while ABC’s Revenge (10.1 mil/3.4) topped the demos. The “new” SVU placed a distant third with 7.6 mil/2.3 (down double digits from 2010).