Fox is demo leader after May sweeps

Fox is the demo leader after three weeks of the May sweep, riding strong numbers for the “American Idol” results show to victory Wednesday.

Though Fox crushed the competish on the night, “Idol” was bookended by winning perfs from other nets. A “Price Is Right” farewell for Bob Barker led the opening hour in demos for CBS, while ABC’s “Lost” closed out the night a winner in most key categories.

The CW was also a player, with “America’s Next Top Model” winning its hour among the under-35 crowd.

Through three weeks of the sweep, Fox led in adults 18-49 with a 4.0 rating/12 share (down 9% in rating vs. a year ago), followed by ABC (3.5/10, up 3%), CBS (3.2/9, down 16%), NBC (2.4/7, down 25%) and the CW (1.3/4, up 8% from the WB of last year).

ABC is expected to leapfrog Fox at least temporarily, but the final three hours of “American Idol” next week should prove enough to carry Fox to victory when the sweep and season come to a close Wednesday. CBS should prevail, as usual, in total viewers.

Looking at same-day Nielsen results for the third Wednesday of the sweep, “American Idol” (10.8 rating/27 share in adults 18-49, 28.05 million viewers overall) dominated at 9 o’clock and was up slightly vs. the same night a year ago. It beat the combined ABC-CBS-NBC-CW competition by 7 shares in 18-49.

While the Tuesday performance editions of “Idol” have consistently trailed the corresponding nights of a year ago, the Wednesday results show is, on average, in line with last year.

Fox was also solid in the opening hour with “Bones” (3.5/11, 10.88m), also up vs. last year, tying for the demo lead with CBS’ “Price Is Right Million-Dollar Spectacular” (3.5/11, 13.99m). With Barker hosting the gameshow in primetime for the last time, CBS logged its best score in the time period since “Jericho” in September.

The Eye was also solid from 9 to 11 with second-place demo finishes for the season finales of “Criminal Minds” (3.7/9 in 18-49, 13.21m) and “CSI: NY” (4.0/10, 13.07m); latter won its hour in total viewers.

ABC did little the opening two hours before rallying to take the 10 p.m. hour in all key demos with “Lost” (5.2/14, 12.32m), which was up week to week but down 15% in rating vs. the same night last year, when it aired at 9.

At the CW, the finale of “America’s Next Top Model” (3.0/9 in 18-49, 6.42m) ran third in 18-49 at 8 o’clock with this cycle’s best numbers. It was also up vs. its May finale of a year ago, winning its hour in adults 18-34 (3.5/12) and teens (4.2/15).

NBC was not a factor on the night, with the series finale of “Crossing Jordan” meek at 9 (1.7/4, 6.44m) and “Medium” (2.6/7, 7.75m) unable to challenge its drama rivals at 10.

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