Fox’s ‘House’ on fire

'Idol' boosts very healthy medical drama

A two-hour “Amazing Race” and sleeper hit “NCIS” gave CBS a big boost Tuesday, but the combo of “American Idol” and the red-hot “House” once again led Fox to a dominant performance on the night.

News wasn’t as good for a pair of midseason efforts, however. NBC’s well-reviewed laffer “The Office” — which the Peacock began promoting on-air as “the surprise hit of the season” after just one special Thursday preview — finished a distant fourth in its timeslot debut. And ABC’s “Blind Justice,” which had a promising bow earlier this month, sank to its worst numbers yet opposite tough competish in the form of “Race” and an original “Law & Order: SVU.”

As always, Fox was unstoppable Tuesday, with “Idol” (11.0/29 adults 18-49, 26.1 million viewers) down just a tad from last week’s performance episode (but up a tick vs. the comparable seg a year ago). But even with a slightly weakened lead-in, 9 p.m. drama “House” (7.2/17 in 18-49, 18.2 million viewers) scored its best ratings ever in both demos and total eyeballs.

While “Idol” supercharged “House’s” perf starting in January, medical drama has been building viewership ever since. In its first post-“Idol” outing, the Hugh Laurie drama averaged a 5.0 demo rating; by this week, it had increased its measure in that demo by more that 40%, topping the 7.0 demo threshold. If “ER” continues its recent ratings erosion, “House” could end the season as TV’s No. 1 medical drama.

Over at CBS, the net was no doubt please by a very solid second place perf, paced by the most-watched episode of “The Amazing Race” (5.5/14 in 18-49, 13.1 million viewers) in three years. Two-hour seg had its best 18-49 score in six months, and at 10 p.m., the reality drama doubled the normal timeslot average for “Judging Amy” and beat out NBC’s usually dominant “SVU” (5.3/14).

At 8 p.m., Eye stalwart “NCIS” (3.4/9, 14.3 million viewers) enjoyed its best performance since “American Idol” returned in January.

Despite NBC’s on-air hyperbole, “The Office” (2.7/6) lost nearly half of the audience that tuned in for last week’s special Thursday preview and averaged fewer young adult eyeballs than either “Scrubs” or “Committed.” It didn’t help that its lead-in, “Scrubs,” averaged a 3.0/7 in adults 18-49 and 6.4 million viewers — the least-watched episode of the show ever.

The good news for “The Office” is that it retained a healthy chunk of its lead-in, indicating its compatibility with “Scrubs.” Given the sorry state of network sitcoms, NBC may consider moving the “Scrubs”/”Office” block to a less brutal night.

ABC’s 8-10 p.m. sitcom block did what it always does, with “According to Jim” remaining Tuesday’s most-watched comedy. None of this helped “Blind Justice” (2.6/7, 7.94 million viewers), which fell 28% from last week’s encouraging outing to earn its lowest ratings yet.

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