Fox's 'American Idol' easily wins night

A two-hour edition of Fox’s “American Idol” easily topped the competition on Tuesday, but the St. Patrick’s Day holiday and extra reality competition sacked the hit to its lowest performance-episode delivery in years. The night’s other top shows also suffered, falling to or flirting with season lows, as television usage among young adults slid to their third lowest levels for a Tuesday this season — behind only the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Day.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, “American Idol” averaged an 8.0 rating/22 share in adults 18-49 and 21.5 million viewers overall, peaking with an 8.7/22 in the demo during the 9:30 half-hour. The show was down a steep 16% week to week but still more than doubled the ddemo elivery of every other program in its time period.

At NBC, a two-hour “The Biggest Loser” (3.2/8 in 18-49, 7.9 million viewers overall) ran second to “Idol” among adults 18-49, also down around 15% week to week. And contributing to the reality glut was the first results show edition of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” which delivered record lows in placing fourth in demos (2.7/7 in 18-49, 12.4 million viewers overall).

CBS provided the scripted alternative among the major networks, but even its hot combo of “NCIS” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 15.5 million viewers overall) and “The Mentalist” (3.2/8 in 18-49, 15.4 million viewers overall) took a hit; still, they ran second in their timeslot in adults 25-54 and total viewers.  

In the night’s final hour, NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (3.4/10 in 18-49, 10.6 million viewers overall) dominated in all key demos opposite CBS’ “Without a Trace” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 12.0 million viewers overall) and ABC’s “Primetime: What Would You Do?” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 7.8 million viewers overall).

At CW, “Reaper” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 1.9 million viewers overall) was down slightly from the previous week.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 8.0/22; NBC, 3.3/9; CBS, 2.9/8; ABC, 2.2/6; CW, 0.6/2.

In total viewers: Fox, 21.5 million; CBS, 14.3 million; ABC, 9.4 million; NBC, 8.8 million; CW, 1.3 million.

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