Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

On a night when President Bush’s “State of the Union Address” altered viewing patterns, one thing stayed the same: “American Idol” was huge in the ratings once again for Fox.

According to time zone-adjusted preliminary nationals from Nielsen, Tuesday’s hourlong auditions episode of “Idol” averaged a 13.3 rating and 32.6 million viewers overall — up 7% vs. the night of the State of the Union a year ago. Through three telecasts this season, the singing competition is up 3% in adults 18-49 and 5% in total viewers vs. a year ago.

Also in the 8 o’clock hour, CBS ran a distant second with “NCIS” (3.3/8 in 18-49, 14.3 million viewers overall), followed by Univision’s “Fea Mas Bella” (2.1/5 in 18-49, 5.1 million viewers overall) and NBC’s “Dateline” (1.8/4 in 18-49, 6.2 million viewers overall).

At 9, the CW’s “Veronica Mars” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 3.3 million viewers overall) didn’t get much of a boost by airing opposite the Bush address, though it was in line with its prior season averages with its first original episode since Nov. 28. “Gilmore Girls” (1.7/4 in 18-49, 3.6 million viewers overall) kicked off the night for the CW and held up pretty well opposite “American Idol.”

Coverage of the State of the Union address, which ran from roughly 9 to 10:05 p.m. ET, was sustaining and will not be including in nightly or weekly Nielsen estimates. Following the address and Democratic response, NBC laffer “The Office” (1.9/5 in 18-49 and 4.1 million viewers overall) led the 10:30 half-hour in demos.

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