‘Idol’ still on a roll for rockin’ Fox

Net solid as megahit reality skein shoots up 15%

It was almost too easy for Fox last week as the revitalized net rode more huge “American Idol” ratings to a sweep of the key demo categories.

Viewers ate up three more hours of “Idol” auditions on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the megahit up 15% vs. last season for its best-ever averages through two weeks, Nielsen reported.

Fox also was a solid second on Monday (“24”) and Sunday (“Family Guy” and “The Simpsons”) while winning Saturday with its combo of “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted.”

Overall for the Jan. 23-29 frame, Fox’s 5.6 rating/14 share in adults 18-49 towered over CBS (3.9/10) and ABC (3.7/10) and doubled the delivery of fourth-place NBC (2.8/7). Net also led in adults 25-54 (5.8/13) and adults 18-34 (5.4/16).

CBS still had the edge on Fox in total viewers (13.34 million to 13.03 million), as the Eye won in the popular-vote category for the 17th time in 19 weeks this season, according to Nielsen.

On the cable side, the Screen Actors Guild kudocast saw a rise in viewership by airing for the first time on two networks — usual carrier TNT and Turner sibling TBS. Nets marketed the show to the different auds they target: drama fans on TNT and comedy fans on TBS.

Sunday’s telecast averaged 5.64 million viewers on the nets combined, up significantly from last year’s 3.39 million on TNT alone and the most for the show since it moved to cable from NBC in 1997.

While TNT outdrew TBS (3.05 million to 2.39m), the latter was more popular among the 18-34 crowd.

Cabler E! also did well with the SAG Awards, as its “Red Carpet” spec averaged a best-ever 1.4 million viewers — nearly double a year ago. This year’s show was hosted by the net’s Ryan Seacrest, working alongside “E! News” co-anchor Giuliana DePandi.

As for Fox, and speaking of Seacrest, leading the way was the second week for the fifth season of “American Idol.” It racked up titanic totals on both Tuesday (15.1/35 in 18-49, 34.96 million viewers overall) and Wednesday (13.0/32, 32.44m) to easily stand as the week’s top programs in these and all other categories.

In 18-49 and total viewers, these scores were slightly below premiere week, although “Idol” was up vs. its opening sesh in adults 25-54.

Monday drama “24” also is hot this winter, winning its Monday hour in 18-49 (5.8/13, 14.22m) and now up 19% in the demo compared with last season at this point.

Of note on Sunday was “Family Guy” (4.7/11 in 18-49, 9.08m), featuring guest voice Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, outrating skedmate “The Simpsons” (4.6/11, 8.97m) for the first time this season.

At CBS, “CSI” (8.3/20 in 18-49, 25.86m) and “Without a Trace” (7.1/19, 22.30m) led their Thursday slots as usual, but the net also has to be encouraged by the start of Jenna Elfman laffer “Courting Alex” (5.1/11, 14.90m). It set regular-series slot highs for CBS this season in key demos, coming out of one of the strongest “Two and a Half Men” perfs of the season (5.8/13, 17.07m).

And in its second airing on Monday of the current week, “Alex” (4.5/10, 15.04m) retained 90% of its repeat lead-in from “Men” (5.0/11, 13.27m).

Tuesday drama “Love Monkey” (3.1/8, 7.68m), another new Eye skein, fell about 10% from its week-earlier preem and placed third in its slot.

Also for CBS, Friday’s “Numbers” hit a season high in 18-49 (3.8/11).

Over at ABC, “Dancing With the Stars” continues to bring big time-period gains on both Thursday with its performance show (5.1/13 in 18-49, 19.37m) and Friday with its results show (3.5/11, 14.00m). Friday drama “In Justice” has faded (2.3/7, 7.56m), however, and is wasting that strong lead-in.

“Grey’s Anatomy” (8.3/20 in 18-49, 18.44m) and “Lost” (8.0/18, 19.05m) also contributed big numbers for ABC, and both “The Bachelor: Paris” (4.0/10, 8.42m) and “Boston Legal” (3.7/9, 12.87m) hit season highs.

NBC had a quiet week with both “ER” and “Law & Order: SVU” in repeat. Of note was a best-yet 92% 18-49 retention for Thursday comedy “The Office” (4.6/11 in 18-49, 8.60m) out of “My Name Is Earl” (5.0/12, 10.45m) and its first-ever build in adults 18-34 (5.1/13 vs. 4.5/13).

It looks like the end of the line, though, for Tuesday’s “Fear Factor” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 4.65m). CBS drama “NCIS” beat the unscripted vet by 50% in persons 12-34 (2.1 vs. 1.4).

The WB again easily handled UPN in their head-to-head 18-34 battle (1.5/4 to 1.1/3) as the latter is nothing special without “America’s Next Top Model.”

Pacing the Frog was Thursday’s 100th episode of “Smallville” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 6.28m), which set network timeslot records in adults 18-34 and other categories. Episode, which featured the death of Clark Kent’s father (John Schneider), won its slot in persons 12-34 (3.2/10).

Also for the WB, “Reba” hit season highs on Friday (1.7/5, 3.98m).

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