Fox’s ‘Idol’ gets busy Wednesday

'Skating' gets lift from reality skein

Another day, another record start for Fox’s “American Idol,” which didn’t miss a beat as it aired its first Wednesday episode of the season.

“Idol” again easily beat the other five nets combined with its hourlong audition seg, standing as the season’s No. 2-rated entertainment telecast — behind Tuesday’s boffo bow (Daily Variety, Jan. 19).

Wednesday’s “Idol” provided substantial sampling for its lead-out, new unscripted skein “Skating With Celebrities,” prior to its move to Monday.

According to Nielsen, “American Idol” averaged a 13.0 rating/33 share in adults 18-49 and 31.65 million viewers overall, not far off what it did in the same hour one night earlier with its season premiere.

It was up 16% from its opening Wednesday of 2005. And through two nights, “Idol” is up 11% in 18-49 and 9% in total viewers compared with a year ago, when it was TV’s No. 1 show.

What must be painful for its network rivals is that Fox has skedded hourlong “Idol” segs on Wednesday for at least the next few weeks and will add three Thursday results show editions to its sked beginning in late February. Its Tuesday telecast will normally air for one hour, although it will be another two-hour audition seg next week.

Airing behind “Idol” on Wednesday was “Skating With Celebrities,” whose preview averaged a hearty 7.2 rating/16 share in adults 18-49 and 18.74 million viewers overall from 9 to 10, placing second in its slot.

Fox’s answer to ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” fared best among females 12-34 (20 share) and women 18-49 (19 share). It moves to its regular Monday-at-8 slot next week; if it can do about 60% of its special Wednesday aud, “Skating” could win its time period, where no program dominates.

ABC’s “Lost” prevailed in Wednesday’s middle hour (8.0/18 in 18-49, 19.13m) and CBS’ “CSI: NY” was the leader at 10 (5.3/13, 15.55m).

In its second week, UPN drama “South Beach” (0.7/2, 1.69m) was overwhelmed opposite “Idol,” declining from its weak premiere score.

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