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‘Idol’ doesn’t miss a beat

Morning Ratings Flash

“American Idol” settled into its regular 9 p.m. Wednesday timeslot last night and promptly did what it does best: Utterly destroy most of the competition.

ABC, however, was spared the wrath of Simon, however. “Lost” returned strong as ever after a three-week absence, dominating the 8 p.m. hour, while auds for “Alias” stayed stable despite the increased competish.

As for Fox’s variety show phenom, “Idol” didn’t skip a beat in its long-planned shift from 8 to 9 p.m., with the first Hollywood-based episode of season four averaging a mighty 11.4/26 in adults 18-49 and 26.1 million viewers, according to prelim Nielsen national numbers. That’s up 5% from what the skein averaged a week ago in an earlier timeslot.

Fox also had some good news at 8 p.m., as “That 70s Show” (4.1/11) had its best demo perf of the season, finishing second only to “Lost.”

Regular timeslot premiere for “Simple Life 3: Interns” (3.9/10) didn’t wow, dropping significantly from its “Idol”-boosted premiere two weeks ago. Unscripted laffer still outperformed Fox’s timeslot average by double digits.

As for ABC, “Lost” (7.5/19, 19.5 million viewers) returned from a brief hiatus to score its third-best demo ratings yet. Even more impressively, “Alias” (4.7/11, 11.3 million) — despite facing “Idol” for the first time– held on almost all of its audience from its last airing two weeks ago.

Not so lucky was NBC’s “The West Wing,” (2.7/6), which earned its lowest ratings ever for an original broadcast. CBS’ “King of Queens” (3.6/18) did OK opposite “Idol” but still took a 14% hit vs. its season average.

At 10 p.m., CBS’s “CSI: NY” (5.0/13) reclaimed the demo mantle, while “Wife Swap” (4.3//11) surged into second place for the hour and “Law &Order” (4.1/10) had to settle for third place.

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