Expanded episode obliterate competition

Fox’s expanded two-hour episode of “American Idol” obliterated the competition on Tuesday, a night that saw solid bows for the CBS season premieres of “Big Brother” and “Jericho.”

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, “American Idol” logged its best scores since its premiere for Tuesday’s episode (12.3 rating/29 share in adults 18-49, 29.9 million viewers overall), beating its combined ABC-CBS-NBC-CW competition by 10 shares in adults 18-49 and by 14 shares in persons 12-34. With “Idol” accounting for all of Fox’s programming on the night, the net more than quadrupled its closest pursuer among adults 18-49 (a 12.3 vs. a 2.8 for NBC).

Elsewhere, following a repeat “NCIS” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 11.7 million viewers overall), the premiere of “Big Brother: Til Death Do You Part” averaged a third-place 2.7/6 in 18-49 and 7.3 million viewers overall. Though it lagged Fox’s expanded episode of “Idol” as well as NBC’s “Biggest Loser,” the debut repped a slight improvement over last summer’s Tuesday debut of “Big Brother 8.” And at 10, “Jericho” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 7.2 million viewers overall) was in line with its first-season finale averages last spring, finishing neck and neck in demos with NBC’s repeat of “Law & Order: SVU” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 8.3 million viewers overall) and outperforming all but one episode of “Cane” to air in the timeslot this season for CBS.

Combined, “Big Brother” and “Jericho” improved the network’s prior four-week 18-49 average in the 9-11 p.m. timeslot (with a combination of original and repeat programming) by 37% (2.6 vs. 1.9).

NBC again put up the best fight opposite Fox from 8 to 10 p.m. with a two-hour episode of “Biggest Loser” (3.0/7 in 18-49, 7.5 million viewers overall), which matched its previous week’s results despite added reality competition from “American Idol” and “Big Brother.”

ABC continues to be an afterthought on the night, receiving weak scores with an hour of “Just for Laughs” (1.4/3 in 18-49, 4.9 million viewers overall), an hour of sitcoms (1.4/3 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall) and firstrun drama “Boston Legal” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 7.2 million viewers overall), which appears to have hit a firstrun series low.

At CW, “One Tree Hill” (1.4/3 in 18-49, 3.2 million viewers overall) held up well despite the increased competition, rising week to week across the board and achieving a season high in teens (2.4/7). Among persons 12-34, it placed third — ahead of “Big Brother.”

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 12.3/29; NBC, 2.8/7; CBS, 2.5/6; Univision, 1.6/4; ABC, 1.5/4; CW, 1.1/3.

In total viewers: Fox, 29.9 million; CBS, 8.7 million; NBC, 7.8 million; ABC, 5.5 million; Univision, 3.6 million; CW, 2.6 million.

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