Contests heat TV ratings

Music, dancing and basketball competitions were all the rage in primetime last week, with Fox remaining unstoppable behind “American Idol” while CBS scored with college hoops and ABC did a jig with “Dancing With the Stars.”

“Idol” segs on Tuesday and Wednesday towered over all other program ratings for the week of March 26-April 1, according to Nielsen, but the shows that followed the megahit — “House” on Tuesday and laffer “‘Til Death” on Wednesday — also racked up gaudy numbers.

Rookie “‘Til Death” has been a pleasant surprise in its new slot for Fox, racking up series highs for a third straight week and placing among the week’s top five programs.

Overall for the sesh, Fox’s 4.1 rating/12 share in adults 18-49 was comfortably ahead of the competition, with CBS second (3.3/10), followed by ABC (2.8/8), NBC (2.3/7), Univision (1.6/5) and CW (1.1/3).

Fox edged out CBS for the week’s lead among adults 25-54 (4.4/12 to 4.1/11) and dominated as usual among those 12-34 (3.6/12 to a 2.1/7 for runner-up CBS). The Eye led in total viewers (11.35 million), averaging roughly 1 million viewers more than Fox (10.4 million).

Fox, the season leader over CBS in the 18-49 chase, has captured the weekly crown in the key demo in 11 of the past 12 weeks, losing only to the Eye during the frame it aired the Super Bowl.

Tuesday’s “American Idol” (11.0 rating/30 share in adults 18-49, 28.18 million viewers overall) was the week’s No. 1 program, while lead-out “House” (9.0/23, 20.80m) was the week’s No. 1 scripted show and won its time period despite tough competish from the “Dancing With the Stars” results show on ABC (4.5/11, 17.93m).

On Wednesday, the half-hour “Idol” results show dominated at 9 (10.9/28, 26.89m) and Fox led on either side of the 9 o’clock anchor with “Bones” at 8 (3.7/11, 10.58m) and ” ‘Til Death” at 9:30 (6.3/16, 14.46m). Latter laffer logged the top 18-49 score for any comedy this season.

At CBS, the NCAA men’s basketball semifinal between Florida and UCLA (4.9/17 in 18-49, 14.37m) dominated Saturday’s action, coming in 9% above the corresponding contest of a year ago between UCLA and LSU (4.5/14 in 18-49).

Eye also welcomed back its winning Thursday lineup, which had been preempted by basketball the previous two weeks. “Survivor: Fiji” (4.5/14, 13.71m), “CSI” (7.2/19, 22.71m) and “Shark” (4.1/12, 14.49m) all led their timeslots.

Also, first-year drama “Jericho” (2.5/7, 8.52m) was up week to week, running second in its Wednesday hour.

ABC again had some of the week’s top shows in “Dancing With the Stars” (5.9/15 in 18-49, 20.42m), “Lost” (5.1/14, 11.52m) and the first “Dancing” results show of the season on Tuesday (4.5/11, 17.93m).

But pitiful perfs elsewhere lowered the net’s overall averages. While it averaged a 3.1 demo rating on the other six nights, it notched a mere 1.2 on Friday, hobbled by a sixth-place finish from 8 to 10 for a repeat “Grey’s Anatomy” (1.1/4, 4.00m) and since-canceled drama “Six Degrees” (1.1/4, 3.12m).

And then there was “Great American Dream Vote,” which auds elected to skip both Tuesday at 10 (1.9/5, 5.88m behind “Dancing With the Stars”) and Wednesday at 8 (1.5/4, 4.54m).

Better news came from a pair of rookie dramas — “October Road” on Thursday (3.5/10 in 18-49, 8.24m) and “Brothers & Sisters” on Sunday (3.4/9, 9.15m) — which held up pretty well even without original episodes leading into them.

Fourth-place NBC was paced by slot-leading “Law & Order: SVU” on Tuesday (4.3/12 in 18-49, 12.86m) and reliable Monday gamer “Deal or No Deal” (4.2/10, 12.18m).

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