Fox had a classic good news-bad news scenario in Tuesday night's television ratings.
First, the good: Actress Zooey Deschanel's new sitcom, "New Girl," had a strong series debut. The Nielsen Co. said Wednesday that "New Girl" was watched by just over 10.1 million people. It was the most popular show of the night among young viewers.
The sampling on television came despite Fox offering a stream of the first episode on iTunes for the past two weeks. The popular indie film actress Deschanel plays a schoolteacher who moves into an apartment with three single guys after she catches her boyfriend cheating.
The bad news: Initial viewership for the season debut of "Glee" was down 35 percent from its second-season premiere last September. Its audience was 8.9 million on Tuesday, compared to 12.5 million for its season debut last year.
New Girl" was aired after "Glee" to try to draw some of the established show's audience and wound up outshining it. "Glee" actress Jane Lynch was also host of Sunday's Emmy Awards.
Fox points out that the beginning of last season was the hottest point for "Glee," and its average audience was around 9 million toward the end of last season. Fox said more than a third of the show's fans regularly record "Glee" on their DVRs and watch it later, viewers that aren't picked up immediately by Nielsen's overnight ratings.
The dramatic comedy about a high school glee club features Matthew Morrison as club director, Lynch as the bullying cheerleading coach and Lea Michele as the self-absorbed singing standout.
There was a clear age divide in Tuesday's viewing. Nielsen said CBS' "NCIS," seen by nearly 20 million people in its season debut, had a 25 audience share among people ages 50 and over. That means 25 percent of people in that age group watching TV at the time was tuned in to "NCIS."
The "New Girl" audience share among 50-plus viewers was 5. Even though its audience was half the size of the "NCIS" audience, it had higher ratings among the young demographic that Fox tries hardest to reach.