Two-hour event dominates ratings

A two-hour edition of “American Idol” in which the final 12 contestants took to the stage dominated the primetime ratings race Tuesday night, with Fox beating the other three major networks combined by 10 shares or more in various categories.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, “American Idol” averaged a 10.8 rating/28 share in adults 18-49 and 29.3 million viewers overall from 8 to 10 p.m., peaking with an 11.9/28 in the demo and 31.6 million viewers in its 9:30 half-hour. The megahit was down 8% in the 18-49 prelims vs. the same night a year ago (an 11.7/31) although it was down a scant 2% in total viewers (from 29.8 million).

NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” continues to be the strongest counter-programming to “Idol,” averaging a 2.9/8 in 18-49 and 7.7 million viewers overall from 8 to 10 p.m. and rising to a 3.4 rating in its final half-hour. The network then moved to the lead at 10 o’clock with a repeat of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (3.0/8 in 18-49, 9.4 million viewers overall).

CBS had a slow night all around with its lineup of a repeat “NCIS” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 8.6 million viewers overall) and firstrun offerings “Big Brother” (2.1/5 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall) and “Jericho” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 5.9 million viewers overall). “Jericho,” nearing the end of its seven-week run, was up slightly week to week.

ABC was weak with “Just for Laughs” in the opening hour (1.2/3 in 18-49, 4.7 million viewers overall) and “According to Jim” from 9 to 10 p.m. (1.5/4 in 18-49, 4.9 million viewers overall) but then shot up at 10 o’clock with limited-run newsmag series “Primetime: What Would You Do?” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 7.5 million viewers overall).

At CW, “Beauty and the Geek” opened its new season to soft numbers (0.9/2 in 18-49, 1.9 million viewers overall), and “One Tree Hill” was on the low side (1.1/3 in 18-49, 2.5 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 10.8/28; NBC, 3.0/8; ABC and CBS, 1.8/5; Univision, 1.6/4; CW, 1.0/2.

In total viewers: Fox, 29.3 million; NBC, 8.2 million; CBS, 6.8 million; ABC, 5.7 million; Univision, 3.5 million; CW, 2.2 million.

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