CBS, NBC gain on Fox in ratings race

'Idol,' 'Fringe' prevail, but on the decline

Fox prevailed in the primetime ratings for another Tuesday, but its combo of “American Idol” and “Fringe” were on the decline, opening things up for CBS, whose “The Mentalist” hit some series highs. NBC, with its solid “The Biggest Loser” and high-rated “Dateline” special, also looked good on the night.

“American Idol” dominated at 8 o’clock as usual (9.0 rating/24 share in adults 18-49, 24.5 million viewers overall), though it was down about 10% week to week; still it roughly matched the combined 18-49 delivery of ABC, CBS, NBC and CW. And “Fringe” (4.3/11 in 18-49, 10.5 million viewers overall) was down more than 10%,

As for “The Mentalist,” it matched its regular-night series high in 18-49 (4.2/10) while drawing its largest overall audience to date (19.7 million) — the biggest crowd during the 9 o’clock hour for a regularly scheduled CBS program since a movie 13 years ago. It built nicely on its solid lead-in from “NCIS” (3.7/10 in 18-49, 18.0 million viewers overall), which continues to put up good numbers in spite of its stiff “Idol” competition. And at 10, “Without a Trace” benefited from a lack At NBC, the two-hour “The Biggest Loser” (3.7/9 in 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall) grew with each of its half-hours, winning from 9 to 10 p.m. among young adults; its overall average represented a roughly 25% improvement over the same night a year ago. And from 10 to 11 p.m., a special “Dateline” featuring Ann Curry’s interview with the woman who recently gave birth to octuplets matched a timeslot season higb for NBC (4.0/11 in 18-49, 11.3 million viewers overall), winning in 18-49 and finishing on par with CBS’ “Without a Trace” among adults 25-54.

ABC had a quiet night bookended by an hour of Charlie Brown Valentine’s Day-themed specials at 8 p.m. (1.5/4 in 18-49, 4.9 million viewers overall) and a special “True Beauty” at 10 (1.6/4 in 18-49, 3.8 million viewers overall). The net did only a bit better in the middle hour with back-to-back original episodes of “Scrubs” (2.0/5 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall).

CW’s “90210” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 2.4 million viewers oveall) and “Privileged” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.5 million viewers overall) were both down week to week in their final firstun pairing on the night. “90210” is shifting to 9 p.m. when it returns from its hiatus in late March.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 6.7/17; CBS and NBC, 3.8/10; ABC and Univision, 1.7/4; CW, 0.9/2.

In total viewers: Fox, 17.5 million; CBS, 17.4 million; NBC, 10.0 million; ABC, 4.4 million; Univision, 4.3 million; CW, 2.0 million.

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