‘Idol’ Dents ABC Comedies; Oprah Flops at 10

Meanwhile, NBC’s return to 10 p.m. with scripted drama does well

Last Updated: March 4, 2010 @ 8:52 AM

"American Idol" put a big dent in ABC’s Wednesday sitcoms while NBC’s "Law & Order: SVU" got a big boost from its move back to the 10 p.m. slot — and Oprah proved to be nothing special with her pre-Oscar chat show.

"Idol," although down from last year’s similar show, averaged a still-mighty 8.5/23 in adults 18-49, easily dominating the night.

But the two-hour performance special sapped away viewers from ABC’s comedies in a big way. At 8:30 p.m. "The Middle" (2.1/6) was down 28 percent from its season-best Feb. 10 score., while "Modern Family" (3.5/9) was off 15 percent from its last original. At 9:30, "Cougar Town" (2.4/6) dipped 11 percent and continues to struggle to hold on to its lead-in.

The news wasn’t any better for CBS’s comedies. "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (1.7/5) was down 26 percent from its last first-run outing and tied a repeat of "Modern Family." At 8:30, "Gary Unmarried" fell 17 percent.

Dramas proved to be a bit more competititve against the "Idol" express.

CBS’s "Criminal Minds" averaged a 3.6/9, just 3 percent below its Feb. 10 first-run score.

And NBC’s "SVU" aired a two-hour special that earned a 2.7/7 from 9-11 p.m. Showing the benefits of having a 10 p.m. timeslot, "SVU" grew from a 2.2 rating at 9 p.m. to a 3.0 by 10:30 p.m., a 36 percent gain within the time period.

During the 10 p.m. hour, "SVU" finished in a virtual tie for the lead with CBS’s "CSI:NY," which squeaked out a demo in with a 3.1/9 (down 9 percent from Feb. 10, when it faced the now-dead "Jay Leno Show."

The big head-scratcher of the night: ABC’s Oprah Winfrey Oscar special managed a mere 1.3/4 at 10 p.m. That’s down 19 percent from the last first-run "Ugly Betty," a show that’s been canceled.

Might be time for the O to start doing the interviews herself rather than having celebs love each other.