Ratings: NCIS Outdraws American Idol for First Time Ever, While Fox Dominates Demos

Television’s most-watched scripted series, NCIS, this Tuesday night outdrew reality juggernaut American Idol in total viewers for the first time ever, 18 million to 15.6 million in their shared 8 o’clock hour. And mind you, the giants used to square off plenty back when Idol ran on a Tuesday/Wednesday schedule.

What’s more, NCIS and its spin-off NCIS: LA combined to average 16.8 million total viewers to the two-hour Idol sing-off’s 15.8 mil.

American Idol‘s Season 11 Top 13 Guys Perform: Who Was Your Favorite? Take Our Poll!

Now that said, Idol of course dominated the 18-49 demo, delivering a 5.0 rating to NCIS‘ 3.4 and the three CBS dramas’ average of 2.8. In fact, both NCIS (down a tenth) and Unforgettable (1.9, down a tenth) were driven to season lows.

Turning to broadcast TV’s one big Tuesday finale, Parenthood wrapped its third season with 5.1 million total viewers and a 1.9 rating, up 4 and 11 percent week-to-week and the heartwarming, tear-jerking drama’s best numbers since Nov. 29.

Cougar Town, in its third week back and opposite Idol, dipped another 4 and 12 percent to new series lows of 4.3 million and 1.5.

A few other quick notes, then it’s back to the salt mines….

* While NCIS and Unforgettable were down, NCIS: Los Angeles (15.7 million total viewers/3.1 rating) saw a 15-percent bump in the demo.

* The CW’s Ringer returned to series lows of 1.1 million viewers/0.4; season finale has been scheduled.

* ABC’s The River, at 4.1 mil and a 1.5, was down double digits.

* At 10 o’clock, Parenthood tied Unforgettable (9.9 mil/1.9) for the demo win. Body of Proof (6.8 mil/1.3) dropped 13 percent in the demo.