‘Idol’ places Fox on demo pedestal

'Progress' for Alphabet preems

Three nights of “American Idol” and record ratings for rookie drama “House” powered Fox to another primetime ratings victory in key demos.

CBS ran second in most demos and won as usual in total viewers, while ABC fell behind NBC for fourth place but received solid opening-night perfs from new drama “Blind Justice” and new comedy “Jake in Progress.”

The Alphabet also continues to show year-to-year gains, with its 19% improvement in adults 18-49 over the parallel week of a year ago repping the 14th time in the past 16 frames the net has exhibited growth. NBC has shown year-to-year declines in eight of the last 10 weeks.

In the world of pay cable, meanwhile, it’s been a roller-coaster week for Showtime’s “Fat Actress.” One week after bowing to a promising 924,000 viewers on March 7 (Daily Variety, March 9), the Kirstie Alley-led laffer plummeted roughly 70% to a mere 285,000 viewers on Monday of the current week — below what the net has averaged with “Huff” and “The L Word.”

News was better for HBO’s “Deadwood,” whose week-two aud of 3.41 million was a 22% build over its week-earlier season preem.

Overall for the March 7-13 frame, according to in-home viewing estimates provided by Nielsen, Fox led all nets in adults 18-49 with a 4.8 rating/13 share — well ahead of CBS (3.7/10), NBC (3.4/9) and ABC (3.2/9).

Fox also prevailed in adults 25-54 (5.0/12) and dominated among persons 12-34 (4.3/13). CBS drew the week’s largest overall audience (12.5 million).

Fox seems unstoppable now as it guns for its first-ever seasonal victory in adults 18-49, last week setting a network record by winning in the industry’s most-watched demo for a seventh straight week.

Big ‘Idol’ coattails

“American Idol” and the shows that surround it were instrumental in the net’s victory last week. “Idol” segs Tuesday (11.7/29 in adults 18-49, 27.66 million viewers overall) and Wednesday (11.7/28 in 18-49, 26.86m) stood as the week’s top two programs in demos, with the latter results show setting a Wednesday season high.

Sandwiching “Idol” on Wednesday, “That ’70s Show” hit a 10-month high (4.2/10 in 18-49, 9.27m) and “The Simple Life 3” had its second best numbers to date (6.3/15, 13.33m). And Tuesday lead-out “House” hit series highs with a repeat (6.6/16, 16.14m).

Also, “24” (5.6/13 in 18-49, 13.09m) was on the high end following the final of three special “Idol” Monday segs (10.1/26, 23.91m).

Not immediately clicking for Fox was the Sunday series preem of “The Sketch Show” (2.4/5 in 18-49, 5.39m).

Over at CBS, the net delivered one of its most dominant Thursday victories to date: “Survivor” (8.1/22 in 18-49, 21.80m), “CSI” (10.4/25, 29.40m) and “Without a Trace” (7.6/20, 23.32m) won the night over second-place NBC by 10 shares in 18-49 while topping NBC, ABC and Fox combined in both adults 25-54 (10.5/24 vs. 9.7/23) and total viewers (24.9m vs. 21.4m).

Eye was also potent Monday with “CSI: Miami” (7.3/18 in 18-49, 21.68m) and “Two and a Half Men” (5.5/13 in 18-49, 17.45m), and Friday drama “Numbers” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 10.55m) edged out NBC’s “Law & Order: Trial by Jury” (3.0/9, 10.69m) in 18-49 in their first matchup.

NBC couldn’t get auds too excited for boxing, as the regular-slot premiere of unscripted series “The Contender” got off to a modest start Sunday (2.7/7 in 18-49, 6.70m) after a pair of midweek previews.

‘Blind’ promise

Weekly highlights for the Peacock included nice perfs by two “Law & Order” skeins: Tuesday’s “SVU” (5.8/15 in 18-49, 14.73m) hit a seven-week high despite facing ABC’s bow of “Blind Justice” (4.5/12, 12.36m), and Sunday’s “Criminal Intent” (5.4/12 in 18-49, 15.72m) had its best showing in more than a year.

ABC got off to a promising start Tuesday with the bow of “Blind Justice” (Daily Variety, March 10) and Sunday with a special two-episode preview of “Jake in Progress” prior to its move to Thursday.

“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” again crushed the competish on Sunday with the second part of its two-hour event (7.7/18 in 18-49, 18.42m), and Wednesday drama “Lost” posted its best repeat scores yet (4.1/11 in 18-49, 12.16m).

UPN topped the WB in adults 18-34 for the week (1.3/4 vs. 1.2/3) but both nets were down more than 10% year-to-year.

UPN’s “America’s Next Top Model 4” is off to the skein’s best start after Wednesday’s second episode (2.4/7 in 18-49, 5.12m), which ranked second for its hour in women 18-34 (4.4/12).

The Frog is generating mediocre numbers for “Summerland” on Monday (1.3/3 in 18-49, 3.38m) and has yet to catch a spark with new unscripted series “The Starlet” on Tuesday (0.9/2, 2.15m). As a result, the WB had one of its lowest-rated in-season weeks ever.

Thanks to theatrical “Gladiator” and its regular helpings of “Law & Order,” TNT rose to the top of the 18-49 cable leaders in primetime, with its 1.25 rating ahead of both UPN and the WB.

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