CBS, Fox top primetime in demos

College basketball, 'American Idol' top ratings for week

The men’s college basketball title game helped CBS earn a share of demo-bragging rights with Fox for the first full week of April, as the nets continue to set the pace in primetime.

Monday’s hoops action was the frame’s top draw in all categories, while Fox’s “American Idol” remained the No. 1 series in demos.

Meanwhile, the season’s battle for third place continues to tighten, as ABC topped NBC for a third straight week and has trimmed the Peacock’s advantage in adults 18-49 rating to 5% (2.81 to 2.68), according to Nielsen. At this point, a tie looks to be the most likely end-game scenario, although a strong finish by ABC (which has the “Lost” series finale in its corner) could put the Alphabet on top.

Of note in cable was a rare first-place 18-49 finish for TBS, which made headlines this week by snagging Conan O’Brien for a latenight talkshow this fall. O’Brien should prove a good fit with the network, whose primetime laffer audience usually places first or second among cablers in 18-34.

Overall for the April 5-11 frame, Fox led in adults 18-49 with a 3.0 rating/9 share to a 2.9/9 for CBS (even though there were fewer than 10,000 viewers separating them in the demo). They were followed by ABC (2.1/6), NBC (1.7/5), Univision (1.2/4) and CW and TBS (both at 0.9/3).

CBS moved ahead in adults 25-54 (3.9/11 to 3.5/10 for Fox) and cruised in total viewers (11.59 million to 8.74 for Fox), while Fox prevailed among the younger 12-34 crowd (2.1/8 to 1.8/7 for CBS).

The Eye claimed half of the week’s top 20 programs in adults 18-49, led by Duke’s narrow victory over Butler in Monday’s NCAA men’s basketball championship (8.2/22 in 18-49, 23.94m), which shot up by 30% or more in key demos vs. last year. In total viewers, it was the event’s largest audience in 11 years (Duke-Connecticut).

Reality was also a winner for CBS, as “Survivor” (3.8/12 in 18-49, 12.38m), “The Amazing Race” (3.4/10, 11.88m) and “Undercover Boss” (4.2/11, 14.68m) all led their hours. “Boss,” wrapping its short initial season, trailed only “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars” among the week’s top series in 18-49.

On the scripted side, the net was paced by crime dramas that delivered nearly the exact same demo scores: “NCIS” (3.5/10 in 18-49, 16.45m), “Criminal Minds” (3.5/10, 12.70m), “The Mentalist” (3.5/10, 16.32m) and “CSI” (3.4/10, 14.97m).

In its second week, Friday drama “Miami Medical” dropped off some (1.4/5, 7.11m), and was on par in the 10 p.m. hour with newsmag competish on ABC and NBC.

Fox, which gets back more into the scripted game this week with the return of “House” and “Glee,” was led once again by “American Idol.” Though drifting downward some, the music talent show still crushed everything both with Tuesday’s performance show (7.3/20, 20.84m) and Wednesday’s results seg (6.7/18, 20.17m).

Compared to this point last season, “Idol” is down 7% in 18-49 and 6% in total viewers but remains easily TV’s top entertainment series in all demos.

Also contributing for Fox was Wednesday drama “Human Target” (2.2/7 in 18-49, 7.73m), which led its low-wattage hour, as well as Thursday drama “Bones” (2.8/9, 9.99m) and Saturday’s winning NASCAR race (1.7/6, 5.98m).

ABC continues to generate perky numbers with Monday’s performance edition of “Dancing With the Stars” (5.1/14, 21.21m), although Tuesday’s results show settled for a fourth-place demo finish in its very tough hour (2.5/7, 12.44m).

Net didn’t have a whole lot else pop, though, in a week when it didn’t air original episodes of most of its top scripted skeins. Sophomore “Castle” (2.9/8, 11.70m) continues to look good on Monday, while Tuesday rookie “V” (2.4/7, 5.79m) and Friday newcomer “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” (1.6/5, 4.68m) were competitive in their timeslots.

NBC had a quiet week, as “The Biggest Loser” (3.0/8 in 18-49, 7.69m) was its lone representative among the week’s top 20 programs, at No. 14.

At CW, “Vampire Diaries” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 3.48m) shot up nicely week to week, winning its hour in femmes 12-34 (2.6/9). “America’s Next Top Model” (1.4/4, 3.17m) continues to do well on Wednesday, but the half-hour rookies that follow it — “Fly Girls” (0.4/1, 1.02m) and “High Society” (0.3/1, 0.69m) — continue to put up miniscule numbers.

In cable, TBS moved to the lead in 18-49 (0.87 rating in 18-49 to a 0.84 for USA) on the strength of “Family Guy” repeats and airings of “Shrek 2” and “Shrek the Third.”

USA’s “WWE Raw” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 4.90m for its 10 p.m. hour) and History’s “Pawn Stars” (1.8/5, 4.37m) — both airing at the same time on Monday — were the top primetime cable telecasts in 18-49.

Lifetime’s “Project Runway” (1.5/4, 3.37m), History’s “American Pickers” (1.4/4, 3.70m), Discovery’s “Life” (1.4/4, 3.98m) and MTV’s “16 and Pregnant 2” (1.4/4, 2.41m) also cracked cable’s demo top 10.

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