Finales fuel ABC reality, NBC's 'Heroes'

Season finales lifted ABC to within striking distance, but Fox still prevailed in the primetime demo wars for a network-record 15th consecutive week.

With two nights of “American Idol” and a strong showing by drama “House,” Fox claimed the week’s top three programs in adults 18-49.

Overall, according to same-day viewing estimates by Nielsen for May 14-20, Fox’s 3.9 rating/12 share in adults 18-49 bested ABC’s 3.6/11, followed by CBS (2.8/8), NBC (2.4/7), Univision (1.7/5) and CW (1.3/4). Fox is perfect in this key demo since the week CBS carried the Super Bowl.

ABC and Fox tied for the week’s lead among adults 25-54 (4.2/11), with Fox prevailing as usual in persons 12-34 (3.4/11). The Alphabet scored a rare victory in total viewers (10.8 million), topping usual leader CBS (10.4 million).

The top shows of the week in 18-49 were Fox’s “American Idol” on Wednesday (10.8/27, 28.05 million viewers overall) and Tuesday (9.4/26, 24.23m), followed by “House” (9.2/23, 21.19m).

ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” wasn’t too far behind with its expanded 75-minute season finale on Thursday (9.1/23, 22.57m). Joining the medical skein in achieving top-10 finales were the Alphabet’s “Desperate Housewives” (7.2/17 in 18-49, 18.82m) and the Eye’s “CSI” (6.2/16, 20.45m) and “CSI: Miami” (5.3/14, 16.63m).

Also noteworthy on the week were a pair of CBS sendoffs: Comedy “King of Queens” won its timeslot in various categories on Monday (5.2/13 in 18-49, 13.61m) — the show’s best numbers in more than 3½ years, and a pair of specs honoring retiring “The Price Is Right” host Bob Barker performed well on Wednesday and Thursday.

In basic cable, TNT and USA were neck and neck in key categories thanks primarily to sports. TNT was led by Wednesday’s Phoenix-San Antonio game in the NBA Playoffs (2.2/8, 4.97m) and Tuesday’s Utah-Golden State matchup (1.8/7, 4.40m), and USA by the Monday block of wrestling’s “WWE Raw” (1.8/5, 4.59m).

USA also scored in demos with feature film fave “Sweet Home Alabama.” On Saturday, the Reese Witherspoon starrer (1.5/5 in 18-49, 3.58m) beat NBC in 18-49, and Sunday’s airing (1.7/5, 3.47m) topped CBS’ “Million Dollar Baby” (1.4/4, 6.89m) in the demo.

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ABC captured the final Monday of the television season on May 21 behind “Dancing With the Stars” and “The Bachelor,” while NBC was potent in the middle hour with the first-season finale of “Heroes.”

The final performance edition of this cycle’s “Dancing” dominated the 8 o’clock hour (5.3/15 in 18-49, 20.19m), winning by 5 shares in adults 18-49 and more than doubling its closest competitors in total viewers. And from 9 to 11, “The Bachelor” finished strong (4.8/12 in 18-49, 12.67m), dominating the 10 o’clock hour and showing that the vet franchise still has some kick.

At NBC, “Heroes” ended its rookie season with strong numbers (6.2/15, 13.48m from 9-10:02 p.m.), prevailing by 4 shares in 18-49 and by 7 shares in adults 18-34 over ABC’s “Bachelor.” It was followed by the special off-night finale of “Law & Order: CI” (3.0/8, 8.85m).

Over at Fox, the final two hours of “24” averaged a 3.8/10 in 18-49 and 10.30m, down about 30% from its final night of last season. CBS, meanwhile, went with four repeats of “Two and a Half Men,” peaking at 9:30 with a 3.9/9 in 18-49 and 12.31 million viewers overall, and a repeat of “CSI: Miami” at 10 (3.5/9 in 18-49, 11.51m).

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