Network blitzes rivals with football, 'Idol'

Television’s two hottest properties — the National Football League and “American Idol” — powered Fox to one of the most lopsided victories on record last week.

Sunday’s NFC Championship game between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings capped the whammo week for the net by drawing the second largest aud for one of the NFL’s playoff semifinals in 30 years. And “American Idol” held strong in its second week of the season and towered over every other entertainment series.

As a result, according to Nielsen, Fox rocked to victory in all key measures for the week of Jan. 18-24, including a monster 8.8 rating/23 share in adults 18-49 — topping the combined delivery of the five nets closest behind it: CBS (2.4/6), ABC (2.1/6), NBC (1.7/4), Univision (1.4/4) and USA (1.0/3).

This is the biggest in-season rating for any net since the week Fox covered the Super Bowl two years ago.

Net also rolled in adults 25-54 (9.9/23), persons 12-34 (6.8/20) and total viewers (24.4 million to 9.6 million for runner-up CBS).

Fox was led last week by the New Orleans Saints-Minnesota Vikings overtime thriller on Sunday (21.3/49 in 18-49, 57.93m), which peaked at more than 65 million viewers in the closing moments. It’s the largest aud for a conference championship since the 1982 NFC game between San Francisco and Dallas (68.7 million on CBS).

“American Idol,” meanwhile, dominated with its early-week audition installments on both Tuesday (10.1/27 in 18-49, 26.38m) and Wednesday (9.9/27, 26.85m) — in both cases easily topping the combined demo deliveries in the hour of ABC, CBS and Fox.

Also for Fox, which takes an insurmountable 18-49 lead into the second half of the season, “Bones” posted its best numbers ever on a Thursday (3.5/10, 11.97m), and lead-out “Fringe” was above average (2.6/7, 8.90m) and closed the gap on its tough drama rivals.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more