Madonna didn't give "The Marriage Ref" a ratings bounce Thursday, but the new Jerry Seinfeld-produced show still did OK in the ratings.
OK, but not great: "Ref" earned a 2.7 rating/8 share among adults 18-49 at 10 p.m., ranking third for the hour behind "The Mentalist" (3.4/10) and "Private Practice" (2.9/9), according to Nielsen. The NBC show was down another 21 percent from last week's Thursday premiere -- but held on to almost all of its so-so "30 Rock" lead-in.
Channeling a certain ex-NBC leader: Would NBC like "The Marriage Ref" to be doing better? Absolutely. The network is the very definition of hit-starved, and so far, there's no indication "Ref" is going to be a home-run or even a triple.
That said, could NBC be doing worse Thursdays at 10 p.m.? Absolutely. "Ref" is still way up from "The Jay Leno Show" and doing better than NBC's Monday-Wednesday 10 p.m. shows (and will definitely outdo Friday's 10 p.m. telecast).
And while NBC finished third, it was a relatively close race, with the Peacock within spitting distance of second-place ABC. We'll also be curious to see how "Ref," which got a glowing notice from GQ this week, is doing with the upscale audiences NBC courts on Thursdays.
Next week will be crucial for "Ref," since there won't be a Madonna or (we think) Seinfeld to articficially boost ratings.
As for the rest of the night, "American Idol" ended its three-week Thursday night reign of terror by dominating with a 6.2/18 and 19.1 million viewers. It seemed to hurt NBC's comedies the most, with our beloved "Community" (1.9/6) tying its lowest-rated telecast ever and our equally beloved "Parks and Rec" (2.1/6) down 9 percent from last week.
The good news: Both shows have been renewed. No take-backs, NBC.