Reality show propels network's season ratings

Fox is making its midseason move, riding “American Idol” and good perfs for its dramas last week to an easy victory in key demos that has vaulted it into a tie with CBS for the season lead among young adults.

“Idol” may be down by 10% or more in most categories vs. its two opening weeks of last season, but it remains laps ahead of any other primetime entertainment series.

Last week its installments Wednesday (9.8/25 in 18-49, 25.90 million viewers overall) and Tuesday (9.0/22, 22.77m) crushed the competish, helping provide the young dramas behind it — “Fringe” and “Lie to Me” — an excellent chance to get exposed to a big audience.

Fox also shined Monday with “House” and “24” and is off to a solid start Thursday with the relocated “Bones.”

Overall, according to Nielsen national estimates, Fox carried the week ended Sunday with a 3.8 rating/10 share in adults 18-49, followed by ABC (2.9/8), CBS (2.7/7), NBC (2.1/5), Univision (1.6/4) and USA (1.2/3).

Fox also led in adults 25-54 (4.3/10 to a 3.6/9 for runner-up CBS) and those 12-34 (3.3/10 to 2.3/7 for ABC), but CBS eked out a victory in total viewers (10.8 million to 10.5 million for Fox).

“House” led the way among Fox’s dramas, winning its Monday hour (5.5/13 in 18-49, 15.03m), and teamed with “24” (4.1/9, 12.10m) for the net’s best 18-49 average on the night in about two years and the best for any broadcast network this season.

Tuesday saw “Fringe” (4.6/11 in 18-49, 11.96m) rack up its best scores since its series preem in mid-September, and Wednesday’s “Lie to Me” (4.9/12, 12.37m) bowed to the best 18-49 preem score of any new show this season.

And Fox’s drama-heavy start to the week included a nice bow for “Bones” in its new Thursday 8 p.m. slot (3.0/8, 9.98m), where it beat firstrun foes “Ugly Betty” on ABC (2.4/7, 7.50m) and half-hours “My Name Is Earl” (2.7/8, 6.59m) and “Kath and Kim” on NBC (2.2/6, 4.93m).

ABC was up vs. the same frame a year ago for a third straight week, as “Grey’s Anatomy” (5.7/14, 14.43m) was the No. 1 scripted skein in young adults and re-emerged as the slot leader over CBS drama “CSI” (4.9/12, 17.67m), which entered its post-William Petersen era on the low side. Airing behind “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice” hit a season high (3.6/10, 9.49m), winning its hour.

Another solid performer was Tuesday’s “Neighborhood Ball” (3.7/9 in 18-49, 12.57m), capping a big day of inauguration festivities.

Also for the Alphabet, “Lost” returned for its fifth season by outperforming its final-month average of last season even though it was down by about 25% vs. its year-ago launch. “The Bachelor” hit season highs on Monday (3.6/8, 9.95m) and followed it up with even bigger numbers to start the current week (4.0/10, 10.57m).

CBS had another strong showing for its Monday comedy block of “The Big Bang Theory” (4.0/10 in 18-49, 11.03m), “How I Met Your Mother” (4.5/11, 10.69m) and “Two and a Half Men” (5.4/12, 16.09m), but its Tuesday was well below average with its Obama news spec (1.7/4, 6.76m) airing in place of “The Mentalist.”

Friday was a big night, though, with dramas “Ghost Whisperer” (2.8/9 in 18-49, 11.18m), “Flashpoint” (2.4/7, 10.18m) and “Numbers” (2.7/8, 10.96m), as the net won by 3 shares in 18-49.

NBC was paced by “The Biggest Loser” (4.0/9 in 18-49, 10.27m), which shot up by 21% vs. its week-ago outing opposite the “American Idol” premiere, standing as the net’s No. 2 show in 18-49, behind only “The Office” (4.6/11, 8.76m).

“Friday Night Lights” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.95m) declined in its second week, placing fourth in its timeslot.

It was a quiet week for CW, which was led by “Smallville” (1.6/4, 3.85m), while MyNetwork saw another network record for “WWE Friday Night Smackdown” (1.2/4, 4.02m).

USA rolled among the cable nets, as “WWE Raw” was the week’s top program in 18-49 (2.2/5 in 18-49, 5.68m for its two hours) and “Burn Notice” scorched its cable competish on Thursday (1.9/5, 5.12m) with its largest audience to date.

Lifetime drew 3.79 million viewers for the premiere of its well-regarded original movie “Prayers for Bobby,” starring Sigourney Weaver, making it Saturday’s top draw on cable.

TLC’s coverage of the 84th “Miss America Pageant” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 3.54m) was Saturday’s top cable program in 18-49, though it was down a bit from last year; the Screen Actors Guild Awards on TBS and TNT averaged a combined 5.4 million viewers, down from last year’s 6.1 million; and Bravo’s “Real Housewives of OC” scored series-best ratings Tuesday for a nonfinale (1.1/3, 1.97m).

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