‘Idol’ runs rings around Games

Fox skates past Winter Olympics

NBC’s Winter Olympics hit another rough patch of ice Tuesday as Fox heavyweights “American Idol” and “House” skated circles around it, defeating the Games in key demos by record margins.

The Peacock’s primetime Nielsen average for Tuesday came in 46% behind the same night four years ago, when nobody dared to program anything against the hot domestic Games in Salt Lake City.

A lack of buzzworthy storylines and the European locale of this year’s event, though, combined with popularserialized skeins on opposing nets, has contributed to record low numbers during the opening week of the Torino Games.

Fox’s two-hour average Tuesday of a 9.6 rating/24 share in adults 18-49 easily bested the Olympics on NBC from 8 to 11 (5.6/14) — the biggest advantage any competing net has had over an Olympics network since at least 1992, according to Nielsen data.

Primetime score is the lowest ever for a night of Winter Olympics coverage.

In Tuesday’s lead-off hour, “American Idol” crushed the Olympics head-to-head in 18-49 (11.2 to 4.2), total viewers (26.6 million to 16.1 million) and all other key categories.

“Idol’s” 8-9:03 p.m. averages (11.4/29, 26.96m) were off about 12% week to week, but the music talent contest was as dominant as ever. Despite the Olympics competish in the hour, Fox still beat the combined 18-49 averages of the other five broadcasters from 8 to 9 (11.2 to 10.5).

Second-year drama “House” picked up from there (7.7/19, 19.20m from 9:03 to 10:03), matching the show’s second best 18-49 score to date. It beat the Games in 18-49 and 25-54 but lost out in overall total viewers.

The Olympics won the 10 o’clock hour, beating the combined scores of “Boston Legal” on ABC (3.3/9, 10.40m) and a special repeat of “NCIS” on CBS (2.6/7, 8.46m). “Boston,” on par with the previous week, was the night’s top-rated series not on Fox.

For its primetime portion (8-11:18 p.m.), NBC’s Torino Olympics coverage averaged a 5.6/14 in 18-49 and 18.41 million viewers overall, easily the weakest of the five nights of these Games.

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