Fox, ABC on top with finales

Auds flocked to unscripted faves “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars” on Tuesday night but didn’t seem all that interested in what was happening “On the Lot.”

A special preview of Fox’s reality skein from Mark Burnett and Steven Spielberg, which seeks to find the next great film director, squandered a huge chunk of its “Idol” lead-in as viewers opted for hoofers over helmers in the night’s middle hour. While “On the Lot” will be judged on how it fares in its regular timeslots when it bows next week, the opening-night tune-in wasn’t especially encouraging.

“American Idol,” though down by 21% vs. the same night a year ago, was enough to carry Fox to victory on the night in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen. ABC, though, ended Fox’s 19-week Tuesday winning streak in total viewers thanks to the two-hour finale of “Dancing With the Stars.”

Night marked the first time since the initial season of “Idol” in the summer of 2002 that a competing net beat Fox in total viewers on a Tuesday when the megahit aired.

According to Nielsen same-day viewing estimates, “On the Lot” averaged a 3.9 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 and 8.54 million viewers overall, coming out of the final Tuesday edition of “American Idol” (9.7/27, 25.24m).

“On the Lot” saw its audience dip sharply as it progressed. Although it remained in second place in key demos, it fell to fourth place in total viewers from 9:30 to 10 (6.2 million).

Fox offers another preview of the show tonight prior to beginning its regular sked next week.

ABC high-stepped during the 9 o’clock hour with the opening half of the “Dancing With the Stars” conclusion, whose two-hour averages were season highs (6.7/17 in 18-49, 22.96 million viewers overall) but below the franchise’s two most recent finales. Show, one of the few hits to perform better throughout this season than last, may have been hurt some by the late run time; viewership peaked in the 10-10:15 p.m. quarter-hour.

Earlier in the night opposite “Idol,” CBS ran second in the hour with the season finale of “NCIS” (3.4/10, 14.13m) while ABC hit five-month highs with spec “The Bachelor: After the Final Rose” (2.7/8, 7.97m).

And at 10, NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” (4.1/11 in 18-49, 10.28m) ended its eighth season with a second-place finish to “Dancing.”

Fox is poised to win the May sweep in adults 18-49, though ABC will be the only network to improve upon its performance of a year ago.

With one night to be counted, Fox’s 3.8 rating/11 share in 18-49 (down 16% in rating vs. a year ago) was followed closely by ABC (3.7/11, up 6%), with CBS (3.1/9, down 18%) and NBC (2.5/7, down 18%) further back. In its first season, the CW (1.3/4) is up 8% vs. the year-ago score for both UPN and the WB.

Fox could also eke out a victory over ABC in adults 25-54 (though the Alphabet led by a tick through Tuesday) and will win rather easily in persons 12-34. CBS will prevail in total viewers, averaging 11.1 million through Tuesday.

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