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Fox’s ‘Idol’ ekes wins

NBA on TNT beats rivals

In a hotly contested week, two big hours of “American Idol” helped compensate for dynamite deliveries by “ER” and “Frasier” and lift Fox to a narrow primetime demo victory over NBC.

Fox was back on top in adults 18-49 (4.1/12) for the first time in seven weeks, according to Nielsen, edging NBC (4.0/12) and CBS (3.7/11), with ABC further back in fourth (3.0/9).

CBS won in total viewers (11.8 million) and NBC prevailed for the 11th time in 14 weeks in adults 25-54 (4.8/12). It looks like the Eye and Peacock will finish the season tied in the demo with a 4.9/12.

It was also a big week for TNT, which rode four primetime NBA playoff games to a dominant victory over its basic cable rivals. Its weekly audience (4.16 million) even topped broadcast nets the WB (4.05m) and UPN (3.27m), as did its ratings in adults 25-54 (1.8) and key male demos.

Overall for the May 10-16 frame, the No. 1 show in adults 18-49 was Thursday’s season finale of NBC drama “ER” (11.3/28 in 18-49, 23.88m), while the most-watched program was the series finale of NBC’s “Frasier” (9.8/24 in 18-49, 25.25m), which drew its largest aud in 3½ years.

Also of note for the Peacock was its 13th demo victory in 14 weeks on Friday courtesy of a two-hour “Dateline” (2.9/10 in 18-49, 8.27m).

Over at Fox, “American Idol” rolled on both Tuesday (9.6/29 in 18-49, 23.27m) and with an expanded episode on Wednesday (10.0/24 in 18-49, 22.28m), helping the net extend its 18-49 winning streaks on these nights to 18 and 17 weeks respectively.

Tuesday drama “24” is also heating up as it nears its season finale, last week clocking in with its best numbers of the season (5.3/14 in 18-49, 12.19m).

Net won the week with ease in persons 12-34 (3.8/13).

‘CSI’ shows lead CBS

CBS was paced by usual suspects “CSI” (8.2/20 in 18-49, 22.52m) and “CSI: Miami” (7.6/19, 20.94m), but also was boosted by a special episode of “Survivor” on Thursday (7.4/21, 19.11m) and by season highs for Tuesday drama “Judging Amy” (3.4/9, 12.28m).

And Sunday movie “Helter Skelter” (4.1/11 in 18-49, 9.33m) led its timeslot in 18-49 with the net’s best made-for score from 9 to 11 since December.

ABC didn’t do much Monday with three-hour original movie “A Wrinkle in Time” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 7.08m) but had one of its best Thursdays of the season with the nail-biter Lakers-Spurs NBA playoff game (3.5/10 in 18-49, 8.55m) and clicked on Wednesday with the best scores for the current edition of “The Bachelor” (6.0/15 in 18-49, 12.45m).

On Sunday, both the return of “Super Millionaire” (3.4/8 in 18-49, 11.51m) and the series finale of “The Practice” (3.5/9, 10.91m) delivered only so-so numbers.

The WB, despite remaining below last year’s hot levels, matched its season high in adults 18-34 (2.1/7). “Everwood,” “One Tree Hill” and “Charmed” all pitched in with strong season-finale perfs.

At UPN, “The Parkers” ended its five-year run nicely on Monday (1.8/5 in 18-49, 4.44m), and Tuesday spec “America’s Next Top Model: The Runway Ahead” also did well (2.0/5 in 18-49, 3.96m).

On the cable side, TNT’s 1.7 rating in 18-49 more than doubled second-place USA (0.7), and the net really dominated among men. With NBA games on Friday (Kings-Timberwolves) and Saturday (Lakers-Spurs), the cabler was No. 1 — broadcast or cable — in key male demos.

FX’s “NASCAR Drivers: 360,” a behind-the-scenes look at the rookies and stars of NASCAR, averaged a solid 1.31 million viewers with its premiere Friday, airing after a Busch Series Race that pulled in 1.70 million. It also pulled in additional viewers in airings both before and after a Nextel Cup race on Saturday.

And on the entertainment side, Sunday’s “American Chopper” on Discovery led the way (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.97m).

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