They’re singing in the corridors at Fox these days as “American Idol” is back and the net is once again competitive in the primetime ratings race.
Powered by a three-night season premiere of the music talent show, Fox scored a solid victory for the week of Jan. 19-25 in the key adults 18-49 (5.6 rating/14 share) and dominated among the narrower 18-34 crowd (5.8/17), according to Nielsen.
The Murdoch net was followed in 18-49 by a Golden Globes-boosted NBC (5.0/13), while CBS (3.1/8) and ABC (2.6/7) were well off the pace.
“Idol’s” appeal stretched to viewers outside the 18-49 demo, as well, helping the net score a victory in total viewers (12.8 million) — its first without major sports help since last May when “Idol 2” ended its run.
After placing fourth in the November sweep, “Idol” has Fox positioned for a much stronger showing in the February ratings, which starts one week from Thursday. Net has won three straight weeks in 18-49 (the other two came courtesy of NFL playoff action) and is the only network up vs. a year ago in the demo at the season’s halfway point.
Last week, three hourlong editions of “Idol” audition episodes averaged a big 12.7 rating/31 share in adults 18-49 and 29 million viewers overall, sweeping the top rankings in both categories. Compared with last season’s opening three nights, it was up 6% in 18-49 and 14% in overall audience.
Show had its usual halo affect on the Fox sked, too, as new unscripted skein “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance” opened big on Monday (9.1/20 in 18-49, 19.65m) and Wednesday drama “The OC” hit new highs (5.6/13 in 18-49, 12.72m).
NBC was a strong second in most categories and grabbed the gold in adults 25-54 (5.6/13), paced by powerful results for the “61st Annual Golden Globe Awards” (9.9/23 in 18-49, 26.80m), which matched a five-year high in the 18-49 demo.
Many of the Peacock’s key series aired in repeats, but a pair of “Friends” rebroadcasts overpowered the competish from 8 to 9 on Thursday. Also, Monday’s “Average Joe Hawaii” hit new highs (5.6/13 in 18-49), “The Apprentice” performed admirably opposite “Idol” on Wednesday (4.9/12 in 18-49, 12.33m), and “ER” led its hour in 18-49 with a repeat for the first time this season (5.0/14).
At CBS, Sunday drama “Cold Case” (3.9/9 in 18-49, 15.75m) was a strong second opposite the Golden Globes, matching its highest 25-54 perf to date (5.3/11). But Saturday’s “Star Search” isn’t doing much, settling for a 1.9/6 in 18-49 in week two.
Elsewhere, key Eye series like “Everybody Loves Raymond” and the “CSI” franchise were all in reruns.
ABC was paced by Wednesday reality tandem “The Bachelorette” (5.2/12 in 18-49, 11.56m) and “Celebrity Mole” (4.0/10, 8.32m) and received one of the best results in a couple of years for Friday’s “20/20” (4.0/12 in 18-49, 12.17m), which featured a John Stossel report on “Lies, Myths and Downright Stupidity.”
‘Faith’ boosts ‘Bonnie’
Also Friday, second-year comedy “Life With Bonnie” again impressed (3.3/9 in 18-49), leading its timeslot in the demo, building on its “Hope & Faith” lead-in (3.1/10) and ranking as the net’s highest-rated scripted series of the week.
The WB, getting a boost from its Thursday and Friday comedies, topped UPN for fifth in adults 18-34 (1.8/5 vs. 1.5/4) and tied ABC and CBS for third in persons 12-34 (1.9/5). Frog did especially well on Thursday, hitting some season highs, while rookie Tuesday drama “One Tree Hill” pitched in with its top scores to date (1.7/4 in 18-49, 4.35m).
UPN saw another strong delivery for “America’s Next Top Model” (2.2/5 in 18-49, 4.93m) and its repeat on Wednesday (1.6/4, 3.93m).
Among ad-supported cable networks, USA finished on top in adults 18-49, 25-54 and total viewers. Highlighting the sweep were strong showings for the network preem of theatrical “Blow” on Sunday (2.0/4 in 18-49, 3.93m) and Friday drama “Monk” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 5.61m).
Week’s top 18-49 series ratings came from MTV’s “Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica” (2.5), Discovery’s “American Chopper” (2.4) and MTV’s “Real World” and Spike’s “WWE Entertainment” (both at 2.2).
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A CLOSER LOOK: Thursday at 8 is the toughest hour on the sked, but the absence of an original “Friends” or “Survivor” last week allowed some first-year shows to strut their stuff.
At Fox, “Tru Calling” established new highs in nearly all key categories, including 18-49 (2.3/6), teens (2.7/9) and total viewers (5.28 million). It beat out UPN’s “WWE Smackdown” to rank third for its hour in 18-34 (2.2/6).
Also, the WB’s “Steve Harvey’s Big Time” set new highs (1.6/4 in 18-49, 4.48m), and lead-out comedy “All About the Andersons” (1.3/3, 3.35m) retained most of that aud and grabbed its best results since moving to Thursday, including a 2.3/6 in women 18-34.
Unable to rise up was first-year ABC drama “Threat Matrix” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 5.69m), whose perf no doubt made easier the decision by net execs to shorten its season order.