"Community" had a good return to NBC: The show, pulled from the midseason schedule amid low ratings, delivered NBC's highest non-sports ratings in its timeslot in 14 months Thursday and was up 38 percent over the show's average for original episodes this season. "American Idol" predictably won the night, as ABC's "Missing" had a so-so premiere, according to preliminary numbers.
Airing at 8 p.m., "Community" had a 2.2/7 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic. The Joel McHale-led ensemble comedy averaged a 1.6 rating earlier this season. NBC decided to bring the show back despite that low average, but has not committed to ordering a fourth season. Weighing in the show's favor is its devoted core fan base and huge presence online.
ABC's Ashley Judd drama "Missing" at 8 p.m. got off to a so-so start with a 2.0/6 in the demo — down 35 percent from last year's strong "Body of Proof" premiere — and 10.6 million total viewers.
Fox had an "Idol"-driven win for the night in ratings and total viewers with an average 3.4/10 in the demo and 12 million. "Idol" at 8 had a 4.5/14 in the demo and 12.1 million total viewers. A repeat of the premiere of Kiefer Sutherland's drama "Touch" followed, receiving a 2.2/6 in the demo and 8.7 million total viewers.
ABC was second in ratings and total viewers with an average 2.4/7 in the demo and 9 million. After "Missing," "Grey's Anatomy" at 9 posted a 3.0/8 and 9.7 million total viewers, while "Private Practice" closed the night at 10 with a 2.2/6 in the demo and 7 million total viewers.
NBC was third in the ratings and fourth in total viewers with an average 1.9/5 and 4.6 million.
The 2.2/7 rating for "Community" was NBC's highest at 8 p.m. — aside from sports — since Jan. 27, 2011. Versus its rating in this same slot on the same night last year, "Community" was up 29 percent in the demo — its 2.2 rating compared to a 1.7 then. The show's return also spawned four different worldwide trending topics on Twitter, more than "American Idol," one of TV's highest-rated shows.
At 8:30, "30 Rock" earned a 2.0/6 — a 33 percent increase on its average earlier this season in the 8 p.m. time slot (a 1.5) — and 4 million total viewers. At 9, "The Office" slipped 12 percent to tie a series low in the demo with a 2.3/6, with 4 million total viewers. "Up All Night" at 9:30 drew even with last week for a a 1.7/4 in the demo and 3.6 million total viewers, while" Awake" at 10 was also flat, receiving a 1.6/4 in the demo and 5 million total viewers.
CBS, which ran coverage of the NCAA basketball playoffs Thursday night, came in fourth in the demo with an average 1.7/5 and third in total viewers with an average 4.7 million.