‘Idol’ hits high note

Reality skein delivers Fox win in key demo

“American Idol” is making a big difference for Fox this summer, leading the net to a record-setting third straight weekly victory among young adults.

According to Nielsen, two editions of the talent show grabbed the week’s top two spots in adults 18-49 (5.3/17 on Tuesday and 4.8/14 on Wednesday). Fox edged out NBC for the week in the key demo for its third straight triumph — its longest stretch ever — while CBS remained on top in total viewers for a fifth straight week.

Fox also saw great premiere numbers for another unscripted series last week, as “30 Seconds to Fame” kicked off the net’s winning Wednesday night with strong ratings.

Through eight weeks of the summer season, Fox is the only network showing gains vs. last year in either adults 18-49 or total viewers (up 4% in both).

Net won four nights in adults 18-49 (and 13 of its 30 half-hours), with “Cops” and “The Simpsons” highlighting a weekend sweep.

NBC was a close second in 18-49, with unscripted series “Fear Factor,” “Dog Eat Dog” and “Crime and Punishment” topping their hours. Net’s “She Spies” failed to find many viewers in its Saturday preem, though, and new “Dateline” series “Firehouse” was only so-so in its Friday bow.

CBS claimed the week’s most-watched programs in “CSI” (14.14 million) and “Everybody Loves Raymond” (11.46m). Net was third in adults 18-49, although its “Big Brother 3” showed gains vs. its premiere week.

ABC continued its struggling ways, placing fourth in 18-49 and total viewers. Net claimed only two of the week’s 40 most-watched programs.

Thanks mostly to Fox’s year-to-year gains, meanwhile, the six broadcast nets averaged more viewers than the corresponding week last year — the first time that’s happened this summer.

UPN again got the better of the WB in the weblets battle, while Lifetime was the week’s most-watched basic cable net in primetime (1.82m).

Sunday

Four episodes of Fox’s “The Simpsons” swept the night’s opening two hours in adults 18-49, leading into the 9 p.m. time-period preem of “Malcolm in the Middle.” “Malcolm” also led its half-hour (3.2/9), despite dropping off from the 8:30 “Simpsons” (4.1/12).

NBC took the night in total viewers, led by a repeat of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (10.15m). At 10, net’s “Crime and Punishment” again won in 18-49 (3.2/9) but fell behind its “Law” lead-in (3.3/9) for the first time.

Season preem of “Sex and the City” did well for HBO (7.93m, 4.2/12 in A18-49), topping all the broadcast nets in the demo. Lifetime’s new series “For the People” (2.82m, 0.8/2) got off to a slow start, retaining only 66% of its 18-49 lead-in from “Strong Medicine.”

Saturday

Fox took the night by all key measures behind four repeat segs of “Cops”

CBS’ “Big Brother 3” (5.66m, 2.4/10 in 18-49) ruled the 8 o’clock hour in key demos and was up 14% vs. its initial Saturday episode. Big lead-in was wasted, though, on “The District” and “The Agency.”

The Big Three’s weak 10 p.m. offerings combined for a puny 16 share in adults 18-49; NBC’s bow of “She Spies” won with a shaky 1.7/6.

Friday

ABC made it two straight Friday victories in adults 18-49, paced by wins at both 9 and 9:30 for repeats of “Whose Line Is It Anyway.”

NBC again finished on top in total viewers, although a spinoff of “Dateline” called “Firehouse” (6.59m) dipped a bit from the original newsmag’s lead-in (7.79m). Another newsmag, ABC’s “20/20,” was the night’s most-watched program (8.89m).

Disney Channel’s “Toy Story 2” topped Fox, UPN and the WB from 8 to 10 in total viewers (4.74m), racking up a 24 share in kids and a 15 in teens.

Fox’s hour of “Invasion of the Hidden Cameras” from 8 to 9 (4.24m, 1.9/7) was up slightly from its preem.

Thursday

CBS took the night behind “CSI” (14.14m, 4.7/14 in 18-49) and “Big Brother” (7.85m, 3.5/12), which was up 13% week-to-week in the demo.

There was good news for newsmags, as Fox’s “The Pulse” built by 24% vs. its week-earlier preem in adults 18-49 (2.1/6 vs. 1.7/5). And at 10, ABC’s “Primetime” led for a second straight week in both adults 18-49 (3.1/10) and total viewers (9.74m).

Wednesday

Fox’s mostly original lineup, bookended by “30 Seconds to Fame” and “American Idol,” took the night in 18-49 while NBC stayed on top in total viewers (Daily Variety, July 19).

ABC News’ “State v.” wrapped its five-week run with series-best numbers (6.83m, 3.1/9 in A18-49), winning the 10 p.m. hour in adults 18-34 (2.8/10).

Tuesday

A 90-minute edition of “American Idol” (10.28m, 5.3/17 in 18-49) lifted Fox to a sixth straight Tuesday victory in adults 18-49, its longest stretch ever. Fox delivered its largest 18-49 Tuesday rating with regular programming (4.7/16) since October 2000.

Monday

NBC (adults 18-49) and CBS (total viewers) split another Monday on July 15, while Fox grabbed its best numbers of the summer with a repeat of “Happy Gilmore” (7.33m, 3.5/10 in 18-49).

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