Fox returns to crush the competition

Fox’s “American Idol” crushed the competition on Wednesday with a special two-hour performance show that was pushed back a day by President Obama’s Tuesday press conference. According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, “American Idol” — featuring the finalists singing Motown classics — averaged a hearty 9.1 rating/24 share in adults 18-49 and 25.6 million viewers overall from 8 to 10 p.m., peaking with 27.4 million viewers during the 9:30 half-hour. It was up by more than 10% vs. last week’s two-hour performance program in its regular Tuesday timeslot.

At second-place CBS, a “Survivor” clip show airing on a special night settled for a 2.3/6 in 18-49 and 8.2 million viewers overall opposite “American Idol” at 8 o’clock. “Criminal Minds” followed with a slight week-to-week uptick (3.4/8 in 18-49, 14.0 million viewers overall), placing second to “Idol” in total viewers for the 9 p.m. hour, and “CSI: NY” closed things out with below-average scores despite winning its timeslot (3.0/8 in 18-49, 12.6 million viewers overall).

Opposite “Idol,” ABC’s comedy block of “Scrubs” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 5.3 million viewers overall) and “Better Off Ted” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 4.7 million viewers overall) was predictably down a bit vs. their timeslot premieres of the previous week, leading into the lowest-rated firstrun episode of “Lost” to date (4.0/10 in 18-49, 8.8 million viewers overall); the latter still was the top scripted program of the night among young adults. And at 10, “Life on Mars” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 5.7 million viewers overall) edged upward one week from its finale.

NBC struggled to get anything going early with either “The Chopping Block” (0.9/2 in 18-49, 2.6 million viewers overall) or “Life” (1.4/3 in 18-49, 4.3 million viewers overall) before picking up some as usual at 10 o’clock with “Law & Order” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 7.2 million viewers overall).

CW’s “America’s Next Top Model” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 2.8 million viewers overall) was affected by the special “Idol” competition, finishing third in its hour among adults 18-34 (1.6/5).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 9.1/24; CBS, 2.9/8; ABC, 2.7/7; Univision, 1.7/5; NBC, 1.5/4; CW, 0.9/2.

In total viewers: Fox, 25.6 million; CBS, 11.6 million; ABC, 6.5 million; NBC, 4.7 million; Univision, 4.3 million; CW, 1.8 million.

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