'Idol,' '24' lead Fox as 'Celine' does CBS proud

HOLLYWOOD — Auds were ready to rock Tuesday night, as both Fox’s “American Idol” and CBS’ Celine Dion concert special from Las Vegas were big ratings draws.

Nielsen delayed release of national numbers, but according to prelim nationals, “American Idol,” featuring country music performances by its participants, grabbed its best score in the leadoff hour in three weeks (9.4/24 in adults 18-49, 19.8 million viewers overall). It easily led its hour in all categories, topping the combined ABC-CBS-NBC competish in the 18-49 demo.

Fox also led from 9 to 10 in 18-49 (6.2/15) and other demos with “24,” which was up about 30% year-to-year.

At CBS, “Celine Dion: Opening Night Live,” featuring the singer’s first performance of stage show “A New Day” at Caesars Palace, led the 9 o’clock hour in total viewers (13.8m), was second in adults 25-54 (5.0/10) and delivered the net’s best 18-49 score in the hour since last May (4.1/10). In metered-market household ratings, it hit the jackpot in Vegas with a 20.1/27.

Among all concert specs this season, “Celine” ranks a close second in 18-49 to NBC’s Faith Hill show on Thanksgiving (4.2/12).

NBC, which went with repeats of its Thursday comedy lineup from 8 to 10 on Tuesday, did well at 9 with “Will & Grace” (second-place 4.6/11 in A18-49) and OK at 9:30 with “Good Morning Miami” (third-place 3.7/9), both of which easily topped the season finale of ABC’s first-year comedy “Life With Bonnie.” Episodes of “Bonnie” scored a 3.2/8 in 18-49 at 9 and a 2.9/7 at 9:30.

ABC is expected to do better beginning next week at 9 when “According to Jim” moves to the slot.

The strong showings by entertainment programs on Tuesday came on the heels of the best numbers for the “Miss USA Pageant” in four years Monday (4.4/11 in A18-49), as its first airing on NBC was boosted by a lead-in from “Fear Factor” (slot-leading 6.2/16, 15.57m).

Results suggest viewers are embracing typical entertainment fare even as coverage of the war continues to generate much larger auds than usual on cable news outlets.

On Tuesday, each of the broadcast nets devoted the 10 o’clock hour to war coverage, with NBC (3.6/10 in A18-49, 8.9m) leading the way. Ratings for the cable news nets weren’t available due to Nielsen delays.

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