Net dances around rivals

Classic gameshows and precocious spellers were no match for fancy footwork Thursday night, as Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” continued its hot start.

ABC fared decently with its first airing of the “Scripps National Spelling Bee” and CBS led in older demos with “Gameshow Marathon,” but the Fox skein dedicated to amateur hoofers danced around the competish.

An evening heavy on unscripted drama also saw TNT fare well with the NBA playoff game between Dallas and Phoenix, which beat ABC and NBC in key demos from 9 to 11.

According to Nielsen nationals for Thursday, “So You Think You Can Dance” (4.4 rating/12 share in adults 18-49, 10.03 million viewers overall) led its 9 o’clock hour in all under-50 demos and placed second to a repeat of “CSI” on CBS (3.9/11, 13.57m) in 25-54 and total viewers.

Show was up in both 18-49 (4.4 vs. 4.3) and 18-34 (4.5 vs. 4.2) from its week-earlier two-hour season preem to make it the top-rated telecast in these demos for any program since Fox’s “American Idol” finale on May 24.

In a late sked move that certainly helped “Dance’s” numbers from 9 to 10, Fox slotted a repeat of Wednesday’s “Dance” in the 8 o’clock hour as an ideal lead-in (2.6/8 in 18-49, 6.00m), winning in 18-49.

“Dance” regularly airs both Wednesday and Thursday, with the first elimination set for June 15.

At ABC, its inaugural airing of the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee (8-10:11 p.m., live to most of the country) averaged a 2.5/7 in 18-49 and 8.53 million viewers overall. In the final 11 minutes, when 13-year-old Katherine Close was crowned champion, “Bee” swelled to a 4.7/13 in 18-49 and more than 14 million viewers overall.

Night two of “Gameshow Marathon” on CBS averaged a second-place 2.3/7 in 18-49, with the Ricki Lake-hosted hour placing first from 8 to 9 in adults 25-54 (3.0/9) and total viewers (8.32 million). Wednesday’s seg also did a 2.3/7 in 18-49.

Seven-episode skein pits celebrities in some of television’s most successful gameshows, kicking off last week with “The Price Is Right” and “Let’s Make a Deal.”

TNT’s coverage of Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference Finals (2.6/8 in 18-49, 6.20m) placed second to CBS from 9 to 11 and won the timeslot in men 18-34 (3.2/11). It was the cabler’s highest-rated postseason game this season.

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