Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Taissa Farmiga
To borrow a phrase from A Clockwork Orange: Ratings for the American Horror Story premiere were "real horror show" — meaning, real good.
The new drama from Glee bosses Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk attracted 3.2 million viewers at 10/9c and slightly more than 5 million counting the encore airing.
FX Networks President John Landgraf said Thursday he was "thrilled," adding: "We're equally thrilled by the response to last night's episode on social media, which was unanimously positive and demonstrated that the audience loved the show as much as we do."
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On the broadcast networks, preliminary Nielsen data showed that Suburgatory's second outing slipped a relatively small 7 percent, neatly ensconcing itself in ABC's Wednesday comedy block, while Free Agents performed so poorly again that it got cut from NBC's lineup.
The new ABC sitcom — in the time slot hammock of 8/30/7:30c between The Middle and Modern Family — grabbed 9.05 million and a 3.0 rating among 18-to-49-year-olds after opening to 9.81 million and 3.3, which marked a 27 percent improvement over last year's tenant of the time slot, Better With You.
In the same slot, the new NBC sitcom starring Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn managed just 3.28 million viewers — which actually was slightly up from 3.11 million a week ago — and a 1 rating in the industry-prized demo. This Nielsen data led the network to make it the second casualty of the 2011-12 season.
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After all the spin-doctoring and mea culpas uttered by Simon Cowell to lower ratings expectations, Fox's The X Factor appears to have found its plateau, averaging 11.54 million and 3.6 demo, continuing a downward trend. (It opened to a 12.14 million viewers and a 4.2 demo and brought back 11.51 million and 3.9 last week.) At 9:30/8/:30c, Raising Hope kept just 6.19 million.
CBS won the night's overall viewership battle with its lineup of Survivor: South Pacific, (10.54 million), the night's most-watched program Criminal Minds (13.34 million) and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (11.81 million) — the last two winning their respective time slots at 9/8c and 10/9c.
At 8/7, ABC's The Middle grabbed 9.01 million, as NBC's Up All Night enjoyed a fourth-week upturn to 5.65 million viewers and The CW's H8R descended to 1.15 million.
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Modern Family kept up its strong showing on ABC, entertaining 13.08 million people and posting a night-winning 5.6 demo; Week 2 of Happy Endings had 6.92 million people tuning in after setting a series high with 7.38 million. Also in prime time's middle hour: NBC's Harry's Law (8.22 million) and America's Next Top Model on The CW (1.68 million).
In the final prime-time hour, ABC's Revenge is a dish, if not served cold, served to fewer and fewer people. It pulled in 7.70 million, another big drop from last week's 8.55 million (and 10.15 million for its premiere). Law & Order: Special Victims Unit totaled 7.88 million, compared with last week's 7.14 million (and 7.60 million for its 13th season premiere).