Dynamic duo put Fox on top

“American Idol” and record ratings for the show that follows it on Tuesday, “House,” carried Fox to easy victories in all the key demo categories last week.

The net has won five of the last six weeks in adults 18-49 (losing only to CBS during Super Bowl week) and moved into sole possession of second place for the season after residing in fourth place as late as Jan. 29.

For the Feb. 12-18 frame, according to viewing estimates by Nielsen, Fox’s 5.0 rating/13 share in adults 18-49 towered over ABC (3.6/10) and CBS (3.5/9), with NBC lagging in fourth place (3.0/8). Univision (1.7/4) again topped CW (1.4/4) for fifth place.

Fox, which also benefited from a 20-minute Daytona 500 overrun on Sunday, cruised in adults 25-54 (5.3/13) and persons 12-34 (4.4/13) as well. CBS edged out Fox in total viewers (12.3 million to 12.2 million) and has now led in this category for 19 of 22 weeks this season.

“American Idol” set the pace once again, dominating the competish with hourlong segs on Tuesday (13.0 rating/31 share in adults 18-49, 31.20 million viewers overall) and Wednesday (12.2/29, 28.89m). Compared with the same weeks last season, “Idol” remains up by about 5% in both 18-49 and total viewers.

“House” followed “Idol” on Tuesday with its best numbers yet (11.2/25, 25.99m). In 18-49, the 11.2 rating edges out the show’s previous high set Jan. 30 (11.1) and the 11.0 for the season preem of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” — making it the top-rated scripted telecast of the season.

And 20 minutes of primetime coverage of the Daytona 500 on Sunday averaged a healthy 7.6 rating in adults 18-49, helping boost the net’s primetime laffers “The Simpsons” (4.2/11 in 18-49, 8.74m) and “Family Guy” (4.3/10, 8.53m). Race averaged a preliminary 17.5 million viewers overall, making it the fifth most-watched Daytona 500 event to date.

ABC was led as usual by “Grey’s Anatomy” (10.8/25 in 18-49, 25.76m), which remained hot, drawing its second-largest overall aud to date. Lead-out “Men in Trees” (4.0/11 in 18-49, 10.87m) continues to lose a big chunk of its lead-in, but followed with series highs for a second straight week.

Also for the Alphabet, “Desperate Housewives” (7.0/17, 18.51m), “Lost” (5.7/15, 12.84m) and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (5.4/14, 14.15m) all led their time periods while the Monday unscripted duo of “Wife Swap” (3.7/9, 8.31m) and “Supernanny” (4.2/10, 9.83m) achieved season highs.

CBS was led by “CSI” on Thursday (7.3/17 in 18-49, 22.71m) and “CSI: Miami” on Monday (6.5/17, 19.90m), with the latter hitting season highs with the conclusion of a two-part episode. “Miami” is getting a boost from 9:30 laffer “Rules of Engagement” (4.9/11 in 18-49, 13.43m), which in its second airing retained all its demo lead-in from “Two and a Half Men” (4.9/11, 15.50m).

“Survivor: Fiji” led its Thursday hour (5.6/15, 16.08m) but another reality vet, “Amazing Race,” posted its lowest premiere scores yet for the debut of its all-star edition on Sunday (3.1/8 in 18-49, 10.29m).

NBC was led by demo winners “Heroes” (6.3/14 in 18-49, 15.50m), “Law & Order: SVU” (4.9/12, 12.94m) and “ER” (4.8/13, 11.60m), while first-year drama “Friday Night Lights” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 7.43m) had its best showing yet on Wednesday and drew its largest aud for any regular-slot episode.

Net’s Sunday unscripted tandem of “Grease: You’re the One That I Want” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 6.70m) and “The Apprentice” (2.3/6, 6.04m) are struggling, though.

At CW, former WB skein “Beauty and the Geek” wrapped with the best finale scores in its three seasons, logging a 1.9/5 in 18-49, a 2.4/7 in 18-34 and 4.19 million viewers overall. And wrestling’s “Friday Night Smackdown” (1.6/5, 4.78m) continued its hot run, achieving season highs in men 18-49 (2.3/8) and men 18-34 (2.4/9) and placing No. 1 for its time period in these categories.

Sunday saw the series finale of “Reba,” which logged the best scores for a CW comedy to date (1.7/5 in 18-49, 4.44m) despite airing in the tough Sunday 7:30 slot. The Reba McEntire-fronted skein was the most popular comedy in the WB’s final season, the biggest laffer in CW’s first season, and has recently become Lifetime’s top-rated half-hour (in repeats) — where it’s been upgraded to primetime.

The top cable draw of the week was TNT’s coverage of the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday (2.8/7 in 18-49, 6.84m), which was up from last year’s record-low perf opposite coverage of the Winter Olympics on NBC. Cabler also scored on Saturday with “NBA All-Star Saturday Night” (2.2/7 in 18-49, 4.85m), the evening’s No. 1 telecast in adults 18-34 (2.4/9).

And in the evening news race, it was another tight battle for the lead between ABC and NBC, which tied in the adults 25-54 demo (2.6/9). NBC’s “Nightly News” moved back on top of ABC’s “World News” in total viewers (10.17 million to 10.06m) one week after the Alphabet newscast had finished on top for the first time this season.

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