'American Idol' dominates primetime lineup

On a night where “American Idol” toyed with viewers’ emotions and advanced 13 instead of 12 contestants, Fox easily won Thursday’s 18-49 demo derby. The net handily outpaced CBS and NBC while ABC offered repeats of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” to come in fourth.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, “American Idol” scored a 7.5 rating/20 share in the demo, with 21.2 million viewers overall in the 8 p.m. timeslot. The “Idol” numbers are sure to go up, however, when the finals figures come in as the last five minutes of”Idol” stretched into the 9 o’clock hour.

CBS’ “Survivor” (3.8/10, 11.9 million viewers overall), was on par with last week’s performance and provided “Idol” its heftiest competition, but it wasn’t nearly enough. A combination of “My Name Is Earl” (2.2/6, 5.5 million viewers overall) and “Kath & Kim” (1.8/5, 4.1 million viewers overall) were enough for the Peacock to defeat ABC’s sagging “Ugly Betty” (1.7/5, 6.3 million viewers overall).

With “Grey’s” (1.6/4, 5.6 million viewers overall) offering a repeat, “CSI” (5.3/13, 20.8 million viewers overall), with guest star Taylor Swift, took the 9 o’clock hour, defeating a “Hell’s Kitchen” (4.6/12, 10.6 million viewers overall) that lost nearly a million viewers from a week ago. “The Office” (4.5/11, 8.6 million viewers overall) was first on Thursday in the 18-34 demo and men 18-49, and “30 Rock” (3.8/9, 7.3 million viewers overall) scored its best 18-49 demo since the second episode of the season.

At 10 p.m., “ER,” winding down to its April 2 finale, won the hour with 3.5/10, 8.7 million viewers overall but was helped by a repeat of “Private Practice” (1.3/4, 4.4 million viewers overall). “Eleventh Hour” (3/8, 11.4 million viewers overall) was the most watched show in the timeslot.

The CW offered repeats of “Smallville” (0.8/2, 2.1 million viewers overall) and “Supernatural” (0.7/2, 1.9 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 6.1/16; CBS, 4/11; NBC, 3.2/9; ABC, 1.6/4; Univision, 1.5/4, CW, 0.8/2.

In total viewers: Fox, 15.9 million; CBS, 14.9 million; NBC, 7.2 million; ABC, 5.5 million; Univision, 3.7 million; CW, 2 million.

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