Multi-night 'Idol' leads way to demo victory

“The Bachelor” and the Academy Awards bookended ABC’s biggest week of the season, but three nights of “American Idol” were still enough to carry Fox to victory in key demos.

ABC did win in total viewers, though, as estimates for Sunday’s Oscarcast went up in the nationals to 41.7 million.

Overall for the first week of March, according to Nielsen, Fox prevailed in adults 18-49 with a 4.1 rating/11 share, followed closely by ABC (3.8/11), both of which were well ahead of CBS (2.6/7) and NBC (2.1/6).

Fox also led in adults 25-54 (4.6/12) and persons 12-34 (3.2/11) while finishing second to the Alphabet in average number of viewers (11.3 million vs. 12.1 million).

ABC matched its best demo delivery since November 2007 and drew its largest overall aud for a frame since September 2008.

“American Idol,” which madde up one-third of Fox’s sked for a second straight week, ranked as the top series of the sesh with its two-hour installments on Tuesday (8.6/22 in 18-49, 23.53m) and Wednesday (8.5/23, 23.56m) and a special results show on Thursday (6.5/19, 19.42m).

“Idol” continues to track within 5% or so of last year’s pace.

Fox didn’t have a whole lot else going on for the week, but its combo of “Cops” (2.1/8 in 18-49, 5.5 million average for its two segs) and “America’s Most Wanted” (1.8/6, 5.77m) dominated Saturday.

At ABC, “The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love” wrapped Monday with big numbers for both its finale (5.3/14 in 18-49, 15.15m) and “After the Final Rose” spec (5.3/14, 13.91m). Combined, they gave ABC its best Monday of the season.

Midweek, dramas “Lost” (4.1/10 in 18-49, 9.29m) and “Grey’s Anatomy” (4.0/11, 11.83m) were on the low side opposite tougher competish than usual.

And on Sunday, “The 82nd Academy Awards” telecast hit a three-year high in 18-49 (13.3/33) and a five-year high in total viewers (41.70m) in becoming the season’s No. 1-rated entertainment telecast. The biggest year-to-year gains came in men 25-54, gaining a big 6 share points (30 vs. 24).

ABC stumbled with other Oscars-themed programming, however, on Tuesday with the “20/20″ special “Before They Were Stars” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 5.20m) and Wednesday with the “Oprah Winfrey Oscar Special” (1.3/4, 4.34m).

CBS was paced by its Monday comedies “The Big Bang Theory” (5.9/14 in 18-49, 15.73m) and “Two and a Half Men” (5.7/14, 16.86m), which followed the season debut of “Rules of Engagement” (3.4/9, 9.72m).

Net also received good perfs from, among others, “NCIS” (4.0/11 in 18-49, 19.62m), “Criminal Minds” (3.4/9, 13.00m) and “CSI” (3.7/10, 15.59m), with the latter getting a boost from guest stars Rascal Flatts.

NBC had a fairly good 10 p.m. showing in its first post-Olympics week (Daily Variety, March 8) but still ran fourth in most categories. Best results came Tuesday with the premiere of “Parenthood” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 8.10m) and Thursday with the timeslot debut of “The Marriage Ref” (3.4/10, 7.71m).

Also, Friday’s preem of “Who Do You Think You Are” (1.6/6 in 18-49, 6.91m) tied for the 8 o’clock hour’s lead in 18-49.

Peacock’s strongest perf came on Thursday, where the arrival of Jim and Pam’s baby produced big numbers for an hourlong seg of “The Office” (4.7/12 in 18-49, 9.02m) — beating ABC’s competing “Grey’s Anatomy” in 18-49 for the first time.

Univision, which closely trailed CBS and NBC for the week in adults 18-34, was No. 3 on Oscar night in this demo thanks to the finale of “En nombre del amor” (In the Name of Love), which drew 5 million viewers overall.

USA led the cable pack on the backs of “WWE Raw” (2.1/5 in 18-49, 5.53m for its 10 p.m. hour) and “Burn Notice” (1.6/4, 4.32m).

But the week’s biggest story in cable was History’s hot Monday skein “Pawn Stars” (averaging a 2.2/5 in 18-49 and about 5.1 million viewers overall for its two half-hours). Show scored especially well in men 18-34 (3.3/11), where it led all of television in the 10 o’clock hour.

Also for the net, which delivered its best-ever monthly ratings in February, 9 o’clock series “American Pickers” remains potent (1.5/4, 3.86m).

Zeroing in on the target younger aud, Disney Channel’s Sunday seg of “Hannah Montana” was cable’s top most-watched show overall for the week (6.32 million viewers), and Nickelodeon’s “iCarly” scored as well on Friday (5.34m).

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