‘Idol,’ Olympics top Thursday

Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

Fox’s “American Idol” won Thursday’s unprecedented four-network showdown in the 8 o’clock hour, but NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics took the night overall, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen.

From 8 to 9, “American Idol” (roughly 9.8 rating/24 share in adults 18-49, 23.5 million viewers overall from 8 to 9:02) easily led over CBS’ “Survivor: Exile Island” (5.4/13 in 18-49, 14.8 million viewers overall), NBC’s Olympics (4.4/11, 17.7 million viewers overall) and ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” (3.7/9, 14.8 million viewers overall). As expected the logjam of competition took its toll: the three unscripted series all delivered their lowest scores of the season in the 8 o’clock hour.

Nielsen said the number of adults 18-49 watching television from 8 to 9 was up 11% vs. the prior season average.

After mostly a recap of the season in the opening hour, ABC’s “Dancing” rallied in the 9 o’clock hour to place a competitive second to the Olympics. For its two hours, the hoofing contest averaged a 4.9/12 in 18-49 and 17.7 million viewers overall.

NBC similarly saved its good stuff for after “Idol” left the air, peaking from 10 to 11 with its highest-rated hour of these Games (10.0/25 in 18-49, 30.2 million viewers overall), although it was still off sharply from the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. ABC was well above average in the hour as well with “Primetime” (4.4/11 in 18-49, 12.4 million viewers overall), with a repeat of CBS drama “Without a Trace” placing third (3.8/9 in 18-49, 11.2 million viewers overall).

Also for CBS, a repeat of “CSI” placed third at 9 (5.2/12 in 18-49, 14.6 million viewers overall), while in the same hour a special episode of Fox reality skein “Skating With Celebrities” settled for roughly a 3.1 rating/7 share and 7.5 million viewers overall.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 7.5/18; Fox, 6.6/16; CBS, 4.8/12; ABC, 4.7/11; WB, 1.0/3; UPN, 0.8/2.

In total viewers: NBC, 24.5 million; ABC, 15.9 million; Fox, 15.6 million; CBS, 13.5 million; WB, 2.4 million; UPN, 2.0 million.

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