September 20, 2012 at 03:20 PM EDT

Media pundits obsess about the falling ratings of singing competition shows, but ultra-veteran Survivor is long past its bell-curve tipping point too.

Wednesday night’s 25th cycle premiere of Survivor slipped in the ratings, a pretty typical story for the CBS program’s debuts in recent years. The reality veteran had a 90-minute opener that delivered 11.2 million viewers and a 3.1 rating in the adult demo, down 9 percent among adults 18-49 from last fall. Survivor led into the finale of the 14th edition of Big Brother (7.4 million, 2.5), down 14 percent.

CBS is pointing out to everybody that among total viewers Survivor actually improved a bit. But if you believe that really matters to the network, then I have some commercials on CSI: Miami (9.4 million), A Gifted Man (7.9 million) and Unforgettable (10.3 million viewers) to sell you (axed last year, don’t you know, though Unforgettable has been revived for a summer run). When it comes to ratings, the adult demo gets the love behind the scenes, fairly or not.

Over on Fox, The X Factor gave network executives a measured sense of relief. Last night’s two-hour block beat Survivor for the night in the demo, bringing in 9.4 million viewers and a 3.5 rating. That’s up a tenth of a point from last week. Granted, X Factor isn’t demonstrating as much week-over-week post-premiere growth as NBC’s The Voice, but at least it isn’t going the other direction. And Fox says there is a fair chance of the show growing another tenth of a point in the nationals (which, if true, would have the show tracking to grow about the same as Voice).

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