American Idol,' 'Glee' and 'House' all contribute

Fox made it look easy last week in primetime, dominating all key demo categories behind “American Idol,” “Glee” and “House.”

“Glee” remains very much in vogue, as its Madonna-themed episode was the frame’s top scripted program among young adults. “American Idol,” meanwhile, has started to drift a bit further below last year’s pace although it continues to rule as primetime’s top show.

The NBA Playoffs scored nicely for TNT and ESPN, but it wasn’t the biggest sports draw of the week. That honor went to the opening round of the NFL Draft on Thursday, whose coverage on ESPN (airing in primetime for the first time) surged year to year, ranked among the week’s top 15 programs in adults 18-49 and contributed to lower scores across the broadcast networks on the night.

Overall, according to Nielsen estimates for the April 19-25 frame that include same-night DVR playback, Fox cruised to victory in 18-49 with a 3.2 rating/10 share, well ahead of its closely bunched rivals: ABC (2.0/6) and CBS and NBC (both 1.9/6). Univision ran fifth as usual (1.3/4), followed by TNT (1.1/3), ESPN (1.0/3) and USA (0.9/2).

Fox also dominated in adults 25-54 (3.7/10 to 2.7/7 for runner-up CBS) and persons 12-34 (2.6/9 to 1.4/5 for ABC), and handed CBS a rare setback in total viewers (9.2 million to 8.4 million for the Eye).

Fox is cruising to another seasonlong victory in adults 18-49 — its sixth straight — but a couple of races remain too close to call heading into the final month. NBC’s lead in 18-49 over fourth-place ABC for the season is one full 10th of a ratings point (2.77 vs. 2.67), with a tie at 2.7 still the most likely final scenario. It will also be tight for the adults 25-54 crown, with Fox and CBS tied at 4.1 through Sunday.

For Fox, “American Idol” claimed the top two spots with Tuesday’s performance show (6.9/20 in 18-49, 19.67m) and Wednesday’s “Idol Gives Back” (5.9/17, 18.82m), which combined the show’s fundraiser event with the week’s usual results show program. Season to date, “Idol” is down 9% in 18-49 and 8% in total viewers.

Also for the net, “Glee” was the week’s No. 1 comedy in 18-49 (5.3/13, 12.98m) and “House” the top drama (4.1/12, 10.81m). And the Saturday tandem of “Cops” (1.7/6, 5.32m) and “America’s Most Wanted” (1.6/5, 4.69m) doubled up the delivery of any other broadcaster on the night.

ABC was paced by “Dancing With the Stars” (4.8/13, 21.07m), No. 6 for the week in 18-49 and No. 1 in total viewers. Comedy “Romantically Challenged” (2.9/8 in 18-49, 10.67m) had an OK bow following “Dancing” on Monday, and then dropped off a bit in its second try kicking off the current week.

Also for the net, “Desperate Housewives” led its Sunday hour in demos (3.4/9, 11.29m) but Tuesday’s “Lost” slipped to third place (3.7/10, 9.53m), as “Glee” has taken away some of the island mystery’s same-night audience.

CBS had a quiet week, though repeats of Monday comedies “The Big Bang Theory” (4.1/112, 11.66m) and “Two and a Half Men” (3.8/10, 11.42m) performed nicely, and reality vets “Survivor” (3.6/11, 11.89m) and “The Amazing Race” (3.2/9, 10.65m) won their hours.

Net’s “Miami Medical” appears dead, though, after hitting another low on Friday (1.0/3, 6.08m).

NBC’s best news came Tuesday as “The Biggest Loser” (3.4/9 in 18-49, 8.58m) hit a 10-week high and cracked the top 10 for the week, and “Parenthood” (2.9/8, 7.27m) grew 16% week to week and posted best-since-premiere scores.

Net also won several slots in 18-49 later in the week with “The Office” on Thursday (3.2/9, 6.30m), “Who Do You Think You Are” (1.3/5, 6.27m) and “Dateline” (1.6/5, 7.22m) on Friday, and “Celebrity Apprentice” on Sunday (3.1/8, 7.93m).

CW was strong Thursday, where “The Vampire Diaries” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 3.33m) again led its hour in femmes 12-34 (2.5/9) and “Supernatural” (1.4/4, 2.82m) posted its best numbers in several months.

In cable, Thursday’s coverage of the NFL Draft, airing in primetime, averaged a combined 8.32 million viewers on ESPN (7.29 million) and NFL Network (1.03 million) — a big 33% gain over last year’s 6.3 million when it aired late in the afternoon on a Saturday. ESPN’s 3.2 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 for the event left it in a virtual tie with CBS for the night’s lead.

ESPN2 then led all of primetime on Friday in demos with coverage of the second and third rounds (1.5/5 in 18-49, 3.37m).

The top-rated primetime NBA playoff game was Saturday’s Game 4 between Los Angeles and Oklahoma City (1.8/7 in 18-49, 4.16m), which edged out Fox’s “Cops” as the night’s No. 1 show in 18-49. Other top NBA scores came from Tuesday’s game of the same series on TNT (1.7/6, 3.74m) and Monday’s contest between Chicago and Cleveland (1.7/5, 3.91m), also on TNT.

Comedy Central’s always-controversial “South Park” was cable’s top entertainment series of the week in young adults with Wednesday’s episode (1.9/5, 3.50m); History’s “America: The History of Us” (2.0/5, 5.67m) drew a net record for a special; and TV Land hit a six-year high with its “TV Land Awards” on Sunday (1.69 million viewers, including 735,000 adults 25-54).

Fox News Channel led the cable news pack for the week in both adults 25-54 (16th among all cablers with 464,000 viewers) and total viewers (1.8 million, ranking sixth). The net stood as the No. 1 news net in April and has now won 100 consecutive months — dating back to January 2002.

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