'Idol' still on top despite drop

“American Idol” again came in below its normally lofty levels on Wednesday, but it dominated everything in its path in carrying Fox to victory on the final night before the start of the May sweep.

According to preliminary nationals, “American Idol” averaged an 8.4 rating/21 share in adults 18-49 and 22.6 million viewers overall during the 9 o’clock hour, beating the other major nets combined but coming in a bit lower than last week and more than 15% vs. the same night a year ago. Fox was on the rise some week-to-week in the night’s opening hour with comedies “Til Death” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 6.2 million viewers overall) and “Back to You” (2.7/7 in 18-49, 7.3 million viewers overall), which combined for a narrow 18-49 victory.

NBC had one of its stronger Wednesdays in a while, led by a dominant showing at 10 o’clock for “Law & Order” (3.7/10 in 18-49, 12.6 million viewers overall). The episode, featuring the farewell performance of series vet Jesse L. Martin, racked up the show’s best scores since Jan. 2. Also for the Peacock, a two-hour “Deal or No© Deal” logged the net’s strongest ratings from 8 to 10 p.m. on the night in 10 weeks (2.3/6 in 18-49, 9.9 million viewers overall).

ABC and CBS were not much of a factor on the night, with the Alphabet getting modest results for unscripted series “Wife Swap” (2.2/7 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall) and “Supernanny” (2.2/5 in 18-49, 5.4 million viewers overall) and more dismal scores at 10 p.m. for “Men in Trees” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 5.2 million viewers overall).

The Eye net was paced by the penultimate “Big Brother” episode of the season (2.3/7 in 18-49, 6.7 million viewers overall), and then aired repeats of “Criminal Minds” (2.1/5 in 18-49, 9.0 million viewers overall) and “CSI: NY” (2.1/5 in 18-49, 7.7 million viewers overall).

At CW, “America’s Next Top Model” was on the rise (2.0/6 in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall), beating the major networks in adults 18-34 (2.3/7). That led into an above-average delivery for “Girlicious” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 2.3 million viewers overall), which was wrapping its season.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 5.5/15; NBC, 2.8/7; CBS, 2.2/6; ABC, 2.0/5; Univision, 1.8/5; CW, 1.6/4.

In total viewers: Fox, 14.7 million; NBC, 10.8 million; CBS, 7.8 million; ABC, 5.5 million; Univision, 4.0 million; CW, 3.3 million.

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