The second episode of American Idol continued yesterday's downward trajectory. Averaging 22.9 million viewers with a 7.8 rating in the 18-49 demographic, Idol was down 9 percent among total viewers and 15 percent in the demo, compared to the 8-9 p.m. hour Wednesday's season ten premiere.

It's also down from last season's second installment, which averaged 26.4 million viewers and a 10 rating in the demo. Of course, that installment aired at 8 p.m. on a Wednesday (Jan. 13, 2010), where the competition is less fierce, and it was also 90-minutes compared to last night's hour-long show.

Last night, Idol, which aired from 8-9 p.m., faced CBS' Big Bang Theory from 8-8:30 p.m., which pulled in 13.5 million viewers with a 4.2 in the demo. Compared to Big Bang's last original episode, that was 95 percent retention among total viewers and 97 percent in the demo, which means Idol did not siphon viewers from the CBS comedy.

But moving Idol to Thursday also gave Fox something to brag about: the net posted its highest-rated Thursday of regular programming since 1995 and its highest total viewer tune-in since 1993.

Idol also out-rated second place CBS from 8-9 p.m. by 67 percent and beat the No. 2 show of the night, NBC's The Office (4.5 rating), by 73 percent.

Idol gave Fox an easy win on Thursday (5.7, 16.7 million viewers), followed by CBS (3.1, 13.6 million), NBC (2.8, 5.4 million) and ABC (1.7, 5.4 million).

NBC's Parks and Recreation (3.2, 6.2 million viewers) returned strong, delivering the show's biggest audience since its series premiere on April 9, 2009. Overall the network's three-hour comedy block fared relatively well in its debut. At 10 p.m. 30 Rock (2.7, 5.3 million viewers) gave NBC its top non-sports rating in the time period since last April.

ABC basically turned out the lights last night, opting for reruns of Grey's Anatomy (1.6, 4.7 million) and Private Practice (1.0 rating, 3.3 million).

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