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Posted at 02:46 PM ET, 09/22/2011

Simon Cowell returns on ‘X Factor’; 12.5 million tune in


Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell on “The X Factor.” (Ray Mickshaw - Fox)

Around 12.5 million people caught the unveiling of Simon Cowell’s “X Factor” Wednesday night.

That’s about 700,000 more viewers than watched the unveiling of NBC’s signing competition, “The Voice” back in April.

“The Voice,” which featured mentor/judges Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green, and Blake Shelton, had launched against sluggish competition toward the end of last TV season.

“X Factor” launched Wednesday night in the thick of Premiere Week against the season debuts of “Modern Family,” “The Middle,” “Criminal Minds,” etc.

But what with “X Factor” starring Simon Cowell who, we learned last night on the show, is the most successful talent scout “on the planet,” and he was reunited with Paula Abdul, aka another third of the judging panel from the original “American Idol,” — and let’s not forget that $5 million prize which, we learned, is the biggest TV prize in the history of the universe — you’d have maybe expected “X Factor” to have mowed down all comers in its 8-10 p.m. timeslot without breaking a sweat, right?

But, in fact, “X Factor” got whomped from 9 and 10 p.m. Wednesday by the season debut of ABC’s comedy “Modern Family”!

About 14.5 million people — a series high — caught the return of the Emmy-winning sitcom. Meanwhile, 12.9 million were tuned to Simon’s show in that hour, according to preliminary ratings.

Oh, and the most recent “American Idol” debut, last January in the same time period, had logged more than 26 million viewers. Without Simon Cowell or Paula Abdul. Or a $5 million prize.

But, those glass-half-full guys over at Fox were having none of this Debbie Downer talk.

Thursday morning they celebrated “X Factor” having coughed up their most watched fall series debut in 5 years. They reveled in the singing-palooza having achieved their network’s highest rated Premiere Week Wednesday night in 16 years.

Sixteen years ago, Fox aired soap operas “90210” and “Melrose Place” on Wednesday nights. And we’re not talking about those cheap CW knockoffs -- we’re talking about the Aaron Spelling originals.

So, where did viewers go to unwind after the “X Factor” premiere was over at 10?

Well, just shy of 13 million of them caught the unveiling of Ted Danson, in the role of Better Than Laurence Fishburne, on “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”

About 10 million opted for ABC’s new “Revenge” in the final hour of primetime.

“Revenge” is ABC’s new rich-people-have-problems-too drama about a young chick named Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp), whose family was driven out of The Hamptons in disgrace many years ago. Emily is now “empowered” to come back to exact revenge, by bumping off the rich denizens of The Hamptons (you go, Emily!). ABC’s programming chief Paul Lee likened it to Alexandre Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Oh yes, he did!

“Revenge” achieved ABC’s best series premiere in the hour in four years.

Another 7.6 million people watched the season debut of “Law & Order: SVU.”

NBC finished a distant fourth on the night. It was a rough night for NBC, what with all the “Ooh it’s Simon Cowell!” and “Can’t wait for ‘Modern Family’!” and “I love Ted Danson!” going on elsewhere. We’ll let it go at that -- NBC is going to have a tough 2011-12 season.

By  |  02:46 PM ET, 09/22/2011

Categories:  X Factor

 
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