ABC's 'Stars' a top draw despite low numbers

Reality skeins dominated the early part of last week, but college basketball helped CBS close the frame well as the Eye continues to outperform its ratings levels of last year.

While Fox still prevailed in key demos, CBS won the last four nights of the week in 18-49 thanks to college hoops. The Eye also remained on top in total viewers, boosted by a “60 Minutes” interview with President Obama.

Overall, according to Nielsen estimates, Fox led in adults 18-49 for a seventh straight week with a 3.8 rating/11 share. CBS was a competitive second (3.4/10), followed by ABC (2.7/9), NBC (2.0/6), Univision (1.6/5) and USA (1.0/3).

Fox also led in adults 25-54 (4.4/11) and those 12-34 (2.9/10), with CBS ranking second in both. In total viewers, CBS led with 11.5 million to Fox’s 10.3 million.

Fox’s “American Idol” dominated once again with both its two-hour Tuesday performance episode (8.1/22 in 18-49, 21.89m) and Wednesday’s hourlong results show (8.7/21, 23.70m) — easily the week’s top two programs in the demo.

Also for Fox, “House” ranked in the top 10 (4.9/13 in 18-49, 13.13m), “Lie to Me” again led its Wednesday hour (3.1/10, 10.26m), and “Bones” was a strong second to basketball in demos on Thursday (3.0/9, 10.52m).

At CBS, the opening nights of the men’s basketball tournament were up 5% vs. last year, helping the net win in 18-49 on Thursday (3.5/10), Friday (3.0/10) and Saturday (3.7/13). Sunday was a winner too thanks to a nearly hourlong hoops overrun combined with “60 Minutes” (3.9/11 in 18-49, 17.04m), which bagged its best demos since December.

Also Sunday, “The Amazing Race” (3.6/9 in 18-49, 12.42m) rode the net’s momentum to a season high in demos and its largest overall aud since November 2007.

Elsewhere, each of the net’s Monday comedies ranked among the week’s top 15 in 18-49, while “NCIS” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 15.84m) and “The Mentalist” (3.3/8, 15.49m) drew the largest overall aud for any scripted fare during the frame.

ABC had the week’s top show not titled “American Idol” in Monday’s “Dancing With the Stars” (5.3/14 in 18-49, 21.22m) and also claimed the frame’s top two spots among scripted series in 18-49: “Grey’s Anatomy” (5.0/13, 14.61m) and “Desperate Housewives” (5.0/12, 14.75m).

Also of note was Thursday’s “Private Practice” (3.5/9 in 18-49, 9.74m), which beat out one of the final episodes of NBC’s “ER” (3.2/9, 9.47m).

NBC was paced by “The Office” (4.0/10 in 18-49, 9.07m) and a timeslot-leading “Law and Order: SVU” (3.5/10, 10.74m). Another standout was Tuesday’s “The Biggest Loser” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 7.99m); the show’s seventh season is tracking as the show’s highest rated since the first installment despite facing “American Idol” regularly.

Not so hot were “Chopping Block” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 3.40m) and “Kings” (1.3/3 in 18-49, 4.60m), which dropped from their already meager premiere scores of the previous week.

CW, nearly at full strength (“90210″ is back next week), edged out MyNetwork in total viewers (1.94 million to 1.86m) but held bigger advantages in adults 18-49 (0.8/2 vs. 0.6/2) and 18-34 (0.9/3 vs. 0.5/2).

Top series on either net remains CW’s “America’s Next Top Model” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 3.79m), which led its hour in femmes 12-34 (3.2/10).

USA led the cable pack as usual, paced by “WWE Raw” and repeats of “House” and “NCIS.”

Week’s top cable entertainment program in 18-49 was Wednesday’s “South Park” on Comedy Central (1.8/5 in 18-49, 3.27m), while the top entertainment telecast in total viewers was Lifetime’s premiere of “Nora Roberts’ Northern Lights” (4.53 million) — the most-watched cable movie of the year.

A series standout was VH1′s “For the Love of Ray J,” which hit a high on Monday (1.3/3 in 18-49, 2.70m), racking up a 2.5/8 in femmes 12-34.

At HBO, “Big Love” wrapped its third season with its best scores of the year (1.3/3 in 18-49, 2.73m), more than doubling its season-preem aud from January (1.16 million).

On Monday of the current week, ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” popped a big number (1.5/4 in 18-49, 4.49m) with an episode featuring the birth of the lead character’s baby. It matched or set series highs in various categories, including females 12-34, in which its 2.4 million viewers repped the largest for a telecast in the net’s history.

And TLC’s “Jon and Kate Plus 8″ surged to a season high with its finale (2.1/5 in 18-49, 4.60m).

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