Fox captures key demos with 'Idol'

Fox has captured another Wednesday in key demo categories on the strength of “American Idol,” but it was a quiet night overall. ABC took the opening hour with “Wife Swap” and it was CBS’ turn to prevail in the 10 o’clock hour with “CSI: NY.”

According to preliminary national ratings from Nielsen, “American Idol” (8.0 rating/20 share in adults 18-49, 22.4 million viewers overall) dominated the 9 o’clock hour and drew more than twice the demo rating of any other program on Wednesday. Still, in part due to soft lead-ins from comedies “Til Death” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 6.0 million viewers overall) and “Back to You” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall), “Idol” was down week-to-week and well off its delivery of the same night a year ago.

CBS put up the best fight of the night’s also-rans, though it started sluggishly with a “The Price is Right” special (1.7/5 in 18-49, 7.6 million viewers overall), which placed fifth in 18-49 among the English-language broadcasters despite challenging for the hour’s lead among total viewers. The Eye picked up from there, with “Criminal Minds” placing second to “Idol” at 9 o’clock (3.1/8 in 18-49, 12.8 million viewers overall) and “CSI: NY” winning to close out the night (3.3/9 in 18-49, 12.6 million viewers overall).

ABC won in most categories kicking off the evening with “Wife Swap” (2.5/8 in 18-49, 7.0 million viewers overall), which was up more than 10% week to week. At 9, however, “Supernanny” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 5.1 million viewers overall) was swamped by “Idol” and declined vs. the previous week, while a Charles Gibson interview of Barbara Walters promoting her just-published autobiography placed third in the 10 o’clock hour (2.0/5 in 18-49, 7.4 million viewers overall).

NBC’s “Deal or No Deal” had another weak night, settling for a 1.8/5 in 18-49 and 7.2 million viewers overall from 8 to 10 p.m. But the net rallied for a competitive second-place finish at 10 o’clock with “Law & Order” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 8.8 million viewers overall).

And at CW, both “America’s Next Top Model” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 4.0 million viewers overall) and “Farmer Wants a Wife” (1.0/2 in 18-49, 2.1 million viewers overall) were on par with the previous week.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 5.0/14; CBS, 2.7/7; NBC, 2.2/6; ABC, 2.1/6; Univision, 1.8/5; CW, 1.5/4.

In total viewers: Fox, 14.4 million; CBS, 11.0 million; NBC, 7.7 million; NBC, 7.7 million; ABC, 6.5 million; Univision, 4.0 million; CW, 3.0 million.

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