FOX put a lot of time and money into The X Factor, Simon Cowell’s new singing competition show that he promises is nothing like American Idol, and when it comes to the ratings, he’s right. The show got off to a slow start averaging just over 12 million viewers over its two-hour premiere.

By comparison, American Idol‘s latest season premiered with over 26 million viewers and stayed above 20 million all season. In addition, The X Factor also did worse than America’s Got Talent and was about on par with the premiere of The Voice. For The X Factor to do less than half that while giving away a $5 million prize is a bad start if FOX wants it to be the new face of the network. This looks like it could be a one-and-done experiment that goes horribly wrong.

ABC, on the other hand, had a stellar night. The Middle began its third season with 9.64 million viewers, it’s second highest-rated episode ever. And at 9pm, Emmy-winning Modern Family became the most-watched show of the night with 14.3 million viewers for the start of season 3. That’s the best Modern Family has ever done and is up more than 1.5 million viewers from last season’s premiere.

Those two huge comedies helped ABC score a big audience for its new drama Revenge at 10pm, getting over 10 million viewers and beating Law and Order: SVU. That’s more than twice as many viewers as ABC had last year in the same time slot with The Whole Truth.

On CBS, the premiere of Criminal Minds at over 14 million was almost identical to its premiere last season, while CSI‘s big move to Wednesday nights (with Ted Danson) got it 12.6 million viewers, which is up from last season’s finale but down about 2 million from the season premiere one year ago.

NBC had a pretty bad night, with the premieres of Harry’s Law (7.3 million) and Law and Order: SVU (7.6 million) both down from last year. The new comedies also had problems. After last week’s special post-America’s Got Talent premieres, Up All Night dropped almost 5 million viewers, going from nearly 11 million to 6 million. And Free Agents dipped too from 6.3 million to 3.9 million.

If that continues, my pre-season prediction that Free Agents would be the first new show to get canceled could come true.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.