Season win big for Fox

The final two nights of “American Idol” helped Fox easily scoop up its network-record 16th consecutive victory among young adults.

In a May 20-27 frame that included the final three nights of the 2006-07 television season, Fox captured five nights in the 18-49 demo. In addition to the “Idol” nights of Tuesday and Wednesday, the net took Thursday behind the return of “So You Think You Can Dance” and also won Saturday with staples “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted” and Sunday with a NASCAR race.

The Murdoch net also cruised to victory for the week in all other key categories, ranging from persons 12-34 to adults 25-54 and total viewers.

Fox ended up winning the season by the largest margin of any net in five seasons, with its 4.0 rating among adults 18-49 topping CBS (3.7) by 8%, according to Nielsen. Net also won in all younger demos, while CBS prevailed in adults 25-54 and total viewers (Daily Variety, May 23).

Wednesday’s 129-minute reveal of the “American Idol” winner towered over all other programs for the final full frame of May with an 11.5 rating/31 share in adults 18-49 and 30.73 million viewers overall. Ratings peaked in the final nine minutes — no doubt frustrating viewers who had set their recorders to the scheduled two hours — with a 36 share in 18-49 and about 39.2 million viewers overall.

Despite the gaudy numbers, this year’s finale came in 19% below last year’s in 18-49 (11.5 vs. 14.2) and 26% lower in 18-34 (9.6 vs. 13.1); among viewers 12-34, this “Idol” conclusion was the lowest rated to date.

“Idol’s” Wednesday edition finished as the season’s No. 1 program in 18-49, marking the fourth consecutive year that either the performance or results edition of the franchise has finished on top.

Net was hopeful that Tuesday’s “Idol” performance show (9.7/27 in 18-49, 25.33m from 8 to 9:03 p.m.) would provide a nice launching pad for new unscripted skein “On the Lot,” but the Mark Burnett-Steven Spielberg show settled for soft preview scores (3.6/9 in 18-49, 7.60m) before settling for much smaller numbers when it bowed in its regular Monday slot to kick off the current week (Daily Variety, May 29).

Elsewhere in the week for Fox, “So You Think You Can Dance” (3.7/12 in 18-49, 9.51m) wasn’t as strong as its premiere of a year ago, but it beat out its mostly repeat competish on Thursday, while NASCAR’s “Coca Cola 600″ race did the same on Sunday (2.7/11 in 18-49, 7.50m).

Kicking off the week, the two-hour “24” finale (3.8/10, 10.30m) was down a sharp 31% from last year’s.

ABC placed second for the week thanks primarily to “Dancing With the Stars,” which won its timeslot both on Monday (5.3/15, 20.19m) and Tuesday (6.7/17, 22.96m).

Also clicking early in the week for the Alphabet were the two-hour finales of “The Bachelor” (4.8/12, 12.67m) and “Lost” (5.9/15, 13.86m). While the dating show was up vs. its most recent cycle, the drama was off about 20% from its year-ago finale.

On Friday, “National Bingo Night” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 5.51m) won its timeslot in demos and was in line with its OK week-earlier premiere.

CBS, whose key Monday and Wednesday series wrapped the previous week, had a quiet frame but was led by a repeat of “CSI” on Thursday (4.1/12 in 18-49, 13.79m).

On Tuesday, the season-ender of “NCIS” (3.4/10 in 18-49, 14.13m) placed second in its slot to Fox’s “American Idol” but stood as the week’s most-watched scripted telecast.

NBC opened well with the first-season finale of “Heroes” (6.2/15, 13.48m) — the week’s No. 1 scripted program in 18-49 — but didn’t do a whole lot the rest of the way save for the Tuesday season finale of “Law & Order: SVU” (4.1/11, 10.28m).

Not helping NBC’s cause was a weak perf for “Friday Night Lights” on Sunday (0.7/2 in 18-49, 2.23m). Fragile first-year show is moving from Wednesdays at 8 to Fridays at 10 in the fall, so the net thought repeats Sunday at 9 was a good idea? Go figure.

TNT was the week’s primetime cabler leader in key demos, as three of its NBA Playoff games between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons ranked among cable’s top five programs in adults 18-49.

USA still eked out a victory among the cablers in total viewers, led by “WWE Raw” on Monday and boosted by some “Monk” repeats on Sunday.

And in the evening news race, ABC’s “World News With Charles Gibson” remained hot (2.0/9 in 25-54, 7.78m), besting NBC’s “Nightly News With Brian Williams” for a fifth straight week in all key categories. CBS’ “Evening News” with Katie Couric was a distant third (1.5/7, 5.96m), again at historic-low levels for the program.

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