‘Idol’ finale lifts Fox for week

ESPN, TNT score as well with NBA Playoffs

Despite finally showing signs of mortality, Fox’s “American Idol” ended its ninth season with big numbers last week and helped Fox cruise to a primetime ratings victory.

Fox got a lift as well from the return of summer series “So You Think You Can Dance” on Thursday and then dominated the lightly watched Sunday of a holiday weekend with a NASCAR race.

The May 24-30 frame, which included the final three nights of the television season, also saw ESPN and TNT score impressive numbers for the conference finals of the NBA Playoffs. The Finals get under way Thursday on ABC and are expected to vault the Alphabet to first place for the next couple of weeks.

Overall last week, according to Nielsen estimates that include same-night DVR playback, Fox led comfortably in adults 18-49 with a 3.3 rating/11 share, followed by CBS (1.8/6), ABC and NBC (1.6/5), Univision (1.4/4), ESPN (1.3/4) and TNT (1.2/3).

Fox also led in adults 25-54 (3.9/12), persons 12-34 (2.4/9) and total viewers (9.7 million to 8 million for usual leader CBS) — marking a rare week when one network ruled among all age groups.

Wednesday’s finale of “American Idol” was easily the week’s top program (8.2/24 in 18-49, 24.22 million viewers overall) although it came in 18% below last year’s conclusion and 28% below the 2008 season-ender (Daily Variety, May 28). Tuesday’s performance show featuring the two finalists ranked second for the week (6.7/20, 20.07m) but was on the low side as well.

Combined for the season, the two nights of “Idol” finished down vs. last year by 10% in 18-49 and by 9% in total viewers.

Elsewhere for Fox, “24” ended its run with nothing-special scores on Monday (2.8/8, 8.94m); “Glee” continued its strong rookie season on Tuesday with another top-5 perf (4.8/13, 11.37m); and the net transitioned smoothly to summer on Thursday with the season preem of “So You Think You Can Dance” (3.0/10, 8.25m).

Highlights at CBS were pretty much relegated to the final few nights of the season, led by the finales of top Monday comedies “The Big Bang Theory” (5.0/13 in 18-49, 15.02m) and “Two and a Half Men” (5.0/13, 15.46m). Also contributing were the finales of crime vets “CSI: Miami” (3.3/9, 12.38m), “NCIS” (3.3/10, 16.30m) and “Criminal Minds” (3.1/9, 12.97m) — with the latter two holding up pretty well opposite the final hours of Fox’s “Idol.”

ABC said good-bye to “Dancing With the Stars” (4.0/12 in 18-49, 19.36m on Monday and a sub-par 3.9/11, 18.40 for its finale on Tuesday) and hello to summer series “The Bachelorette” on Monday (2.8/8, 9.08m). This season of “Dancing” started with much ratings promise, but the ouster of big initial draws like Kate Gosselin and Pamela Anderson resulted in wilting numbers down the stretch.

The Alphabet didn’t do much past Tuesday, although Wednesday’s preem of theatrical hit “Transformers” (1.8/5, 4.83m) gave the net its best performance opposite an “Idol” finale in three years.

NBC was led by Tuesday’s season finale of “The Biggest Loser” (3.9/11 in 18-49, 9.96m), which logged the show’s best numbers since January, and lead-out drama “Parenthood” (2.6/7, 6.02m), which posted its largest demo victory to date over CBS’ fellow rookie “The Good Wife” (2.0/6, 10.60m).

The Peacock also led all broadcasters Saturday with Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals between Philadelphia and Chicago (1.7/7 in 18-49, 4.43m), which matched last year’s opener (Detroit-Pittsburgh) even though this year’s series started on a holiday weekend.

Univision, boosted by 10 hours of telenovela “Hasta que el Dinero Nos Separe” (For Love or Money), moved up to second place among broadcasters for the week in adults 18-34, trailing only Fox.

Dominating cable, ESPN and TNT were each boosted by three games of the NBA’s conference finals. The top-rated games were Thursday’s fifth game of the West Final between Los Angeles and Phoenix on TNT (3.6/11, 8.67m) and Monday’s fourth game of the East Final between Boston and Orlando on ESPN (3.4/10, 7.96m).

On the entertainment side in cable, Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch” was the top scripted series (1.6/4 in 18-49, 3.32m) despite facing tough broadcast competish on Tuesday. And Bravo scored with “Real Housewives of New Jersey” on Monday (1.3/4 in 18-49, 2.16m) and “Real Housewives of New York City” on Thursday (1.4/4, 2.56m).

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