'Royal' ratings regal for ABC

Four hours of “American Idol” proved to be way too much for the competish last week, as Fox rolled to its eighth consecutive demo victory.

A series high for “Don’t Forget the Lyrics,” a special Monday seg of “Moment of Truth” and a strong NASCAR overrun on Sunday also helped power Fox, but the net’s locomotive was once again “Idol.” The music talent show claimed the top three spots in the program rankings and doubled everything else in primetime in some demos.

According to Nielsen’s “live plus same-day” data (live viewing plus same-night DVR playback), Fox averaged a 5.2 rating/14 share in adults 18-49, nearly double the delivery of ABC (2.7/7). NBC and CBS tied for third (2.2/6), followed by Univision (1.5/4), TBS (1.1/3) and CW (0.9/2).

Fox also cruised in adults 25-54 (5.8/14), persons 12-34 (4.0/13) and total viewers (13.8 million).

Tuesday’s 90-minute “Idol,” featuring the top male contestants, was the week’s No. 1 show (11.1/27 in 18-49, 28.59), followed by Wednesday’s show with the female finalists (10.5/27, 27.55m) and Thursday’s results show (9.1/24, 26.23m).

Fox used “Idol” to boost other shows, including the return of comedy “Back to You.” Rookie laffer achieved a series high behind “Idol” on Tuesday (4.4/11 in 18-49, 12.15m) and performed nearly as well a night later in the same sked setup (4.2/11, 11.68m).

And on Thursday, “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” hit a series-high note behind “Idol” (5.2/13 in 18-49, 14.39m), winning its slot in total viewers.

ABC’s highlights included good starts for Sunday’s nonscripted duo of “Oprah’s Big Give” (5.3/13, 15.58m) and “Here Come the Newlyweds” (4.1/11, 10.09m), which meshed nicely with “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (5.2/13, 14.87m).

Also, original telepic “A Raisin in the Sun” scored on Monday (3.6/9 in 18-49, 12.69m), the preem of “Primetime: What Would You Do” won its Tuesday slot (2.9/8, 7.67m), and “Lost” led its Thursday hour in demos (5.4/13, 12.89m), although this score was its lowest of the season.

CBS was paced by “Survivor” (4.2/11 in 18-49, 12.53m), which held tough opposite “American Idol,” and by Monday repeat “Two and a Half Men” (3.9/10, 12.20m).

Firstrun skeins “Big Brother” and “Jericho” continue to produce middling ratings, although both were up week to week and have proven to be popular on other platforms for the Eye.

CBS Interactive Research reports that the “Jericho” season premiere on Feb. 12 has drawn a cumulative 1.41 million streams across the CBS Audience Network. And on TV, Nielsen’s “live-plus 7-day” DVR playback numbers show that its premiere ratings increased by 15% in 18-49 (3.0 vs. 2.6) and by 14% in total viewers (8.14m vs. 7.13m) compared with its previously reported “live plus same-day” average.

And “Big Brother” continues to be a big draw online, where its initial week of episodes accounted for 1.57 million streams across the CBS Audience Network.

NBC was paced by the slot-leading “Deal or No Deal” on Monday (4.3/11, 15.43m) and “Law & Order” on Wednesday (3.3/9, 11.44m). Not looking so hot though was Friday gameshow “Amnesia” (1.3/4, 4.99m), which fell off in its second week.

CW had another quiet week, although “America’s Next Top Model” (2.0/5, 3.82m), “One Tree Hill” (1.4/3, 3.18m) and “Friday Night Smackdown” (1.4/5, 4.70m) helped keep the lights on.

Univision ranked third among all networks for the week in adults 18-34 (1.7/5) and was No. 1 on Friday thanks in part to the 10 p.m. preem of “Nuestra Belleza Latina 2008” (Our Latin Beauty 2008).

MyNetworkTV drew its largest nightly aud for series programming to date — 1.74 million viewers — for its combo of “Street Patrol” and “Jail.”

TBS moved to No. 1 among cable nets in 18-49 (1.06 rating). Leading the way were its three weekend plays of “Wedding Crashers” and repeats of “Family Guy.”

Wrestling and “NCIS” helped USA remain on top in total viewers (2.78 million), though MSNBC drew the largest program aud with Tuesday’s Democratic debate from Ohio (7.78m).

Week’s top demo draw was Bravo’s “Project Runway” on Wednesday (2.1/6, 3.96m), while VH1’s “Rock of Love” was another standout on Sunday (1.9/4, 3.01m).

Lifetime’s new Friday reality skein “Your Mama Don’t Dance” didn’t get off to a gangbuster start (1.6 million viewers), but it did improve the time period by 20% or more year to year in various femme demos.

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On Monday of the current week, ABC scored with its two-hour spec “The Royal Family,” which was the night’s top-rated program in 18-49 (3.7/9), 25-54 (4.6/11) and total viewers (14.14 million).

RDF USA produced the inside look at the royal family of Great Britain, which aired under the “20/20” banner and was anchored by Barbara Walters. It drew more overall viewers than any edition of the newsmag since a February 2003 special report on Michael Jackson.

Fox’s two-hour finale of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” averaged a 3.2/8 in 18-49 and 8.02 million viewers overall. Although the sci-fi skein cooled off after a solid start on Mondays, its 18-49 average is about as big as that for any other first-year drama this season.

NBC lost ground by flip-flopping slots for its nonscripted tandem of “Deal or No Deal” (3.1/8 in 18-49, 10.82m at 9 p.m.) and “My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad” (2.4/6, 7.24 at 8 p.m.), but 10 o’clock drama “Medium” was on the high side in winning demos (3.0/8 in 18-49, 9.08).

And there was no improvement at CBS for “Welcome to the Captain” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 5.47m), which aired its season — and likely series — finale. Similarly struggling is CW’s nonscripted series “Pussycat Dolls: Girlicious” (0.8/2, 1.69m).

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