Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

Fox’s “American Idol” crushed the competition with another two-hour performance edition Wednesday, while ABC remained in control of the evening’s final hour in key demos with “Lost.”

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, performances by the final 12 female singers on “American Idol” averaged a huge 12.2 rating/31 share in adults 18-49 and 30.3 million viewers overall — up slightly over Tuesday night when the 12 male finalists performed but down some vs. the same night a year ago for the Fox megahit. Net beat its combined ABC-CBS-NBC-CW competition by 9 shares in adults 18-49.

At second-place CBS, “Jericho” (2.4/6 in 18-49, 8.7 million viewers overall) hit a low with its first episode in about three months, although it did beat out competing drama “Friday Night Lights” on NBC (1.8/5 in 18-49, 5.4 million viewers overall), which took a step back after hitting regular-slot highs the previous week opposite “Bones.” ABC also was affected by the return of “Idol” to the time period, as “George Lopez” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall) and “Knights of Prosperity” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall) were on the low side.

In the night’s middle hour opposite “Idol,” CBS ran second with “Criminal Minds” (4.0/9 in 18-49, 14.4 million viewers overall), although these numbers are expected to be revised downward in nationals due to preemptions for college basketball that spiked numbers on Eye affils in a few markets. NBC’s “Deal or No Deal” (2.2/5 in 18-49, 8.1 million viewers overall) and ABC’s repeat of “Lost” (2.2/5 in 18-49, 5.4 million viewers overall) tied for a distant third-place finish. CW’s “One Tree Hill” was on the high end of its ratings range (1.5/4 in 18-49, 3.1 million viewers overall) and placed second to “Idol” among persons 12-34 (2.3/6).

At 10, ABC’s “Lost” (5.7/15 in 18-49, 12.9 million viewers overall) was on par with its performance of the previous week, winning in demos over CBS’ “CSI: NY” (4.1/11 in 18-49, 14.1 million viewers overall) and NBC’s “Medium” (2.5/6 in 18-49, 7.9 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 12.2/31; CBS, 3.5/9; ABC, 3.3/8; NBC, 2.1/5; Univision, 1.6/4; CW, 1.4/4.

In total viewers: Fox, 30.3 million; CBS, 12.4 million; ABC, 7.8 million; NBC, 7.1 million; Univision, 3.9 million; CW, 3.1 million.

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