Fox, ABC cash in on hype

“American Idol” was all the rage Wednesday night, with the weekly results edition dominating for Fox and ABC’s controversial special “Primetime Live” on the talent show scoring big in the evening’s final hour.

Fox held off ABC for the night’s lead among young adults, helping the former close the opening week of the May sweep on top in the key 18-49 demo. CBS leads the pack in adults 25-54 and total viewers while ABC and UPN are the most improved.

NBC’s steep declines are one of the biggest reasons four of the other five broadcasters are showing gains.

On Wednesday, “Fallen Idol,” a special hourlong edition of “Primetime Live” — devoted to an alleged behind-the-scenes scandal at “Idol” involving a judge and former contestant — averaged a slot-leading 6.1 rating/16 share in adults 18-49 and 13.7 million viewers overall during the 10 o’clock hour. This put it ahead of dramas “CSI: NY” on CBS (4.4/11 in 18-49, 13.42m) and “Law & Order” on NBC (3.6/9, 11.70m), with the latter nearing record lows.

Wednesday’s “Primetime Live” was the highest-rated edition of a newsmag in 18-49 since NBC’s “Dateline” devoted two hours to “Friends” in a special edition last May. And it’s ABC’s best timeslot result in the news demo of 25-54 since December 2003.

“American Idol” — the real deal — rolled as usual at 9 (10.8/27 in 18-49, 25.40m), easily standing as the night’s top program. Fox also ran second in 18-49 at 8 with “That ’70s Show” (3.2/10, 6.61m), at 8:30 with a repeat “’70s” (3.9/11, 8.04m) and at 9:30 with a repeat “Stacked” (5.1/12, 11.21m).

ABC controlled the night’s opening hour with “Lost” (6.3/18 in 18-49, 17.20m). Also in the hour, CBS struck out with “Dr. Phil: Behind the Headlines” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 7.35m) — easily the lowest rated of the three Dr. Phil specs to air on the net.

At 9, ABC’s “Alias” (3.7/9 in 18-49, 9.16m) won the drama battle in 18-49 over NBC’s cooled-off “Revelations” (3.5/9, 8.71m) and CBS’ special “Without a Trace” (3.3/8, 11.93m). Alphabet won the night in total viewers (13.3 million to Fox’s 12.9m), ending Fox’s 15-week winning streak by this measure.

Through Wednesday (seven nights of the four-week sweep), Fox led in adults 18-49 with a 4.3 rating/12 share (up 8% in rating vs. last year), followed by ABC (3.9/11, up 39%), CBS (3.8/10, up 9%), NBC (3.4/9, down 36%), the WB (1.5/4, down 6%) and UPN (1.4/4, up 27%).

CBS is on top among adults 25-54 (4.8/12), with ABC and Fox tied for second (4.5/11), and the Eye also leads in total viewers (13.3 million).

As for the “Fallen Idol” fallout, Fox issued a statement saying, “We have concerns about the motives behind last night’s purported news special, as much of it was filled with rumor, speculation and assertions from a disqualified contestant who admitted during the special to telling lies.

“Regardless, we are absolutely committed to the fairness of this competition.  We take any accusations of this nature very seriously, no matter their source, and we have already begun looking into them.”

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