American Idol's Motown episode steamrolled the competition, averaging nearly 23.5 million viewers.
Wednesday's two-hour show was up from last week's 22.2 million viewers and rose 1 percent among 18-to-49-year-olds to a 7.7 rating — although that's down 8 percent from the comparable year-earlier show.
Still, Nielsen says the show is averaging 25.1 million viewers for the season, barely 2 percent less than last season's 25.5 million. So, as industry observers have noted, Simon Cowell's departure has not led to a desertion by viewers, and Idol remains prime-time television's top-rated show.
In prime time's first hour, CBS' Survivor: Redemption Island attracted nearly 10.8 million people. Also at 8/7c, a new episode of ABC's The Middle grabbed 7.3 million viewers (a rerun at 8:30 nabbed 5.8 million), while Minute to Win It won over 4.2 million on NBC and the CW's America's Next Top Model drew nearly 2.2 million viewers.
At 9/8c, ABC's Modern Family returned with a fresh episode and jumped to 10.8 million viewers (compared with 5.8 million for last week's rerun) — helping Mr. Sunshine rebound to 5.9 million (vs. last week's 4.6 million). In the same hour, repeats of Criminal Minds and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit totaled viewerships of 8.7 million and 4 million, respectively, while Shedding for the Wedding attracted 968,000 on the CW.
CBS' Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior edged NBC's SVU, 8.9 million people to 8.7 million at 10/9c. Coming in a distant third in the three-way race was a first-run episode of ABC's Off the Map (4.5 million).