‘Idol’ gives Fox thrice the power

'ER,' 'Friends,' 'Will & Grace' garner strong numbers for NBC

HOLLYWOOD — A triple scoop of “American Idol” kept Fox on top of the primetime heap for a third straight week in the primary young-adult demo.

The hot music talent show, comprising 17% of the net’s sked, continues to dominate everywhere it airs while having a halo effect on the scripted shows that surround it.

CBS, despite third-place finishes in demos, was easily the most-watched network overall, while NBC was again the most balanced of all nets — placing first or second in all key measures.

According to Nielsen Media Research estimates for the week of April 21-27, Fox prevailed in adults 18-49 (4.6/13) for the 11th time in the past 16 weeks. Net’s three editions of “American Idol,” including a one-hour spec on Monday, placed in the week’s top 12, led by Tuesday’s hour (No. 4, 9.6/27), which again defeated its combined ABC-CBS-NBC competish.

Fox claimed nine of the week’s top 20 programs overall, with shows airing before or after “Idol” on the sked — such as Tuesday’s “24” (5.8/15) and Wednesday’s “That ’70s Show” (5.7/18), “Bernie Mac” (6.0/15) and “Wanda at Large” (4.9/12) — also making the list.

A repeat of “The Simpsons” was Sunday’s top show in 18-49 (5.5/15), and the premiere of limited-run reality skein “Mr. Personality” opened well Monday (Daily Variety, April 23), although it faded in its second try.

NBC’s “ER” (10.1/26) was the week’s No. 1 program in adults 18-49 for the first time since December (Daily Variety, April 28), capping a strong Thursday for the Peacock that also included a dominant showing by “Friends” (9.9/30) and a potent “Will & Grace” (9.3/23), featuring a guest appearance by Madonna.

The Peacock, which won the week in adults 25-54 and women 18-49 was second in 18-49, 18-34 and total viewers, also received more winning perfs from the “Law & Order” franchise. Wednesday’s mothership (6.4/17), Friday’s “Special Victims Unit” (5.0/16) and Sunday’s “Criminal Intent” (5.2/13) all led hours in 18-49.

Net’s Tuesday comedy block is ailing, though, with anchor “Frasier” (3.2/8 in A18-49) falling behind a repeat of ABC’s “According to Jim” (3.5/9) and “Watching Ellie” (2.7/7) not competitive at 9:30.

CBS ran third in both 18-49 and 25-54 despite its comfortable advantage in total viewers, which came courtesy of Sunday movie “A Painted House” — the net’s most-watched single-part telepic in more than three years (18.28m) — and timeslot victories on both Saturday and Sunday for the two-part series finale of nine-year drama “Touched by an Angel.”

“CSI” was again strong on Thursday, ranking as the night’s and week’s top program in both adults 25-54 (11.1/25) and total viewers (25.22m).

ABC, fourth in most categories and third in adults 18-34, had a solid Wednesday behind “The Bachelor” (6.2/15 in A18-49) and the series premiere of the reality show that follows it on Wednesday, “Extreme Makeover” (5.6/15).

Net also took Saturday in demos with “Forrest Gump” (2.9/10 in 18-49) and delivered the week’s top newsmag in Thursday’s “Primetime” (5.2/13 in adults 18-49), which moved ahead of CBS drama “Without a Trace” in the demo (4.3/11) for just the second time.

The WB ranked fourth for the week among persons 12-34 and women 18-34 — behind only Fox, NBC and ABC — and was only a tick out of fourth in adults 18-34.

The 150th episode of “7th Heaven” (3.1/9 in A18-49, 8.28m) did well on Monday, while the one-hour series finale of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” didn’t do much against tough competish on Thursday (1.0/3 in A18-34), but it did beat out ABC’s “All-American Girl.”

UPN was again well off its year-ago pace and fell further behind the WB in the 18-34 demo. Net’s “Platinum” (1.0/3 in A18-34) isn’t making much noise on Tuesday, retaining 66% of its lead-in from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

TNT ended Fox News Channel’s five-week run as the most-watched basic cabler. The Turner net, boosted by NBA playoff action, finished on top for the frame in adults 18-49 (1.2 national rating), adults 25-54 (1.2) and total viewers (2.74 million).

Fox News was still up more than 140% year-to-year in both total viewers and adults 25-54, while fellow newsie CNN fell to 12th place in overall primetime viewership (1.05 million) and was up 30% vs. last year.

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