'House,' 'Idol' powerhouse duo

Fox left no doubt in the opening two hours of primetime Tuesday, obliterating its rivals with “American Idol” and “House,” with the latter establishing a series high for the second time in three tries.

According to national estimates from Nielsen, “American Idol” (13.0 rating/31 share in adults 18-49, 31.2 million viewers overall) beat the combined ABC-CBS-NBC-CW competition by 6 shares in adults 18-49 and was up by 14% vs. the same night a year ago when the Winter Olympics provided some tougher competition on NBC. “House” followed with equally dominant numbers (11.2/25 in 18-49, 26.0 million viewers overall) and surged by a huge 58% vs. last year.

“House” eked past its previous high demo rating of 11.1 set two weeks ago, and Tuesday’s seg stands as the season’s top-rated scripted telecast in adults 18-49.

NBC’s second-place finish in 18-49 was led by “Law & Order: SVU” (4.9/12 in 18-49, 12.9 million viewers overall), while the net was above average from 8 to 10 with “Dateline” (2.4/6 in 18-49, 6.3 million viewers overall) and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (2.9/7 in 18-49, 8.5 million viewers overall). “Dateline” delivered the best demo score for the net opposite “Idol” in the time period since last February.

CBS, second on the night in adults 25-54 and total viewers, was paced by runner-up finishes from “NCIS” (3.6/8 in 18-49, 15.4 million viewers overall) and “The Unit” (3.4/8 in 18-49, 11.9 million viewers overall), with the latter retaining most of its 18-49 lead-in from the military crime vet. Net slipped to third at 10 with a special repeat of “Without a Trace” (2.5/6 in 18-49, 8.4 million viewers overall).

ABC was above average with “America’s Funniest Home Videos” at 8 (2.0/5 in 18-49, 6.2 million viewers overall) and then had its best showing since November at 9 with a “Primetime: The Outsiders” episode devoted to polygamy (3.3/8 in 18-49, 8.6 million viewers overall). “Boston Legal” (2.8/7 in 18-49, 9.4 million viewers overall) was about average at 10.

Final 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 12.1/28; NBC, 3.4/8; CBS, 3.2/8; ABC, 2.7/6; CW, 1.5/3.

In total viewers: Fox, 28.6 million; CBS, 11.9 million; NBC, 9.3 million; ABC, 8.1 million; CW, 3.4 million.

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