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‘Idol’ showdown brings ratings win

Fox dominates Tuesday due to duo

The “American Idol” battle of the Davids produced Goliath-sized ratings for Fox on Tuesday night, as the show is finishing on a high note.

After “Idol” lagged behind last year’s ratings pace by double-digit percentages for much of this season, Tuesday’s performance showdown between David Archuleta and David Cook outperformed the same night of a year ago. That boded well for the finale, which aired Wednesday — the last night of the television season.

The final Tuesday of the season was a big night for finales overall, as ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” went out a winner — though down nearly 20% vs. last year — and CBS enjoyed success with the two-hour wrap of “NCIS.”

According to Nielsen, “American Idol” (10.1 rating/28 share in adults 18-49, 27.06 million viewers overall from 8 to 9:03 p.m.) beat its combined ABC-CBS-NBC-CW competish by 9 shares in 18-49.

These were the best Tuesday scores for “Idol” since March, and it repped one of the few times this season that the show outdelivered its number for the corresponding night a year ago (up 4% in 18-49, from a 9.7/27, and up 7% in total viewers, from 25.3 million).

Fox remained on top in some younger categories at 9 o’clock with “Hell’s Kitchen” (5.2/13 in 18-49, 11.44m from 9:03 to 10:01 p.m.), a show that will continue to air into the summer.

ABC’s two-hour “Dancing With the Stars” finale, during which Kristi Yamaguchi was crowned the celebrity winner, averaged a sturdy 5.4/14 in 18-49 and 20.12 million viewers from 9 to 11 p.m. It won its final three half-hours in adults 18-49, but its overall average came in 19% below last year’s finale (6.7/17), and this season-ender was the franchise’s lowest rated.

At CBS, the expanded 8-10 p.m. finale of “NCIS” (3.4/9 in 18-49, 16.52m) produced the show’s best numbers since November. It combined with the series finale of “Shark” (2.3/6, 10.27m) to give the Eye its strongest Tuesday since December among young adults and its largest overall aud on any Tuesday this season.

As it has on most nights down the stretch, NBC was not a factor with its dreary lineup of repeats. Its top-rated program, an encore “Law & Order: SVU” at 10 o’clock (2.1/5 in 18-49, 5.76m), ran fourth for the hour.

At CW, the season finale of “Reaper” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 2.53m) was up vs. recent weeks despite the tougher competition.

ESPN claimed the No. 5 show of the evening with its coverage of the NBA playoff game between Boston and Detroit (2.5/7 in 18-49, 5.43m). In 18-49, it ran second to ABC’s “Dancing” at 10 o’clock.

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