ABC's 'Dancing,' CBS' college basketball also score

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“American Idol” kept Fox on top of the primetime demo derby last week, but CBS and ABC made things interesting.

In a week when live programming won eight of 22 hours, Fox prevailed in adults 18-49 thanks to three hours-plus of “Idol” — easily the top show in the demo. CBS moved ahead in adults 25-54 and total viewers in part due to its Saturday domination with college basketball.

And ABC, led by a hot start to the season for “Dancing With the Stars,” was right in the hunt as well. The Monday performance episode of the net’s hoofing hit emerged as the week’s most-watched program overall, attracting about 23 million viewers.

For the March 29-April 2 frame, according to Nielsen national estimates, Fox led in adults 18-49 with a 2.9 rating/9 share, followed by CBS (2.6/8) and ABC (2.5/8). NBC was further back in fourth this week (1.9/6), but still well ahead of Univision (1.2/4) and cable leader USA (1.0/3).

At Fox, “American Idol” was down week to week but still dominated Tuesday with its performance show (7.7/21 in 18-49, 21.84m) and Wednesday with its results show (6.7/19, 20.49m). Both were down week to week, but the show is still tracking within 6% of its year-ago 18-49 average at this point in the season.

Also for the net, Wednesday drama “Human Target” was back on the rise (2.3/8, 8.23m) and won its hour. And one night later, “Bones” (2.4/8, 8.68m) and “Fringe” (2.2/7, 5.83m) held up OK in their first teaming together in three months, with the former easily beating ABC’s rival drama “FlashForward” (1.5/5, 5.04m).

CBS, which aired mostly repeats early in the week, dominated Saturday’s primetime with college basketball’s men’s semifinals, including the final half-hour of Butler-Michigan State (which topped 20 million viewers) and the 9:20 p.m. ET tip between Duke and West Virginia (4.7/16, 15.82m). For the night, CBS beat the combined deliveries of ABC, Fox, NBC and top cabler USA.

CBS also claimed the No. 1 program on Friday with the premiere of “Miami Medical” (1.6/5, 7.49m) and Sunday with “Undercover Boss” (4.0/1, 13.18m).

ABC had its best week (excluding the frame including the Oscars) in three months, thanks in large part to “Dancing With the Stars” (5.6/16 in 18-49, 22.97m), which dominated its Monday timeslot and became the first regular series telecast in five years to draw more total viewers in a week than both the Tuesday and Wednesday editions of “American Idol.” Tuesday’s results show also fared well in its new 8 o’clock slot (3.0/9, 14.28m).

Elsewhere for ABC, which claimed half of the week’s top 10 programs in 18-49, “Castle” hit series highs for a second straight week on Monday (3.5/10, 13.86m) and “Lost” was on the high side Tuesday (4.1/11, 10.13m), leading into solid but unspectacular return numbers for rookie sci-fi drama “V” (2.8/8, 13.86m).

Net then bagged the top scripted shows in 18-49 on Wednesday with “Modern Family” (3.9/11, 9.51m) and Thursday with “Grey’s Anatomy” (3.5/11, 9.87m).

On Friday, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” took a tumble in its second week (1.5/5, 4.33m), following a low-rated season preem for “Wife Swap” (1.2/5, 3.48m); ABC said Tuesday it was replacing this week’s “Wife Swap” with a repeat of last week’s “Food Revolution.”

It was a pretty quiet week at NBC, which was led by Wednesday’s slot-leading “Law & Order: SVU” (2.9/9, 10.08m) and two-hour reality vets “The Biggest Loser” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 7.43m) and “Celebrity Apprentice” (2.8/8, 7.22m).

Net again did OK with its trio of new alternative series — “Marriage Ref” (2.3/7, 5.40m), “Who Do You Think You Are?” (1.4/5, 5.87m) and “Minute to Win It” (1.8/5, 5.55m) — each of which will return next season, NBC said this week. Friday’s “Who” became the first regular series to top an original episode of CBS’ “Ghost Whisperer” (1.3/5, 5.96m) in 18-49 since November 2006.

USA once again led the cable pack, paced by a strong 10 p.m. edition of Monday’s “WWE Raw” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 5.80m).

Other top cable demo performers included History’s Monday combo of “Pawn Stars” (2.0/5, 4.99m) and “American Pickers” (1.5/4, 4.53m) and Comedy Central’s indefatigable “South Park” on Wednesday (1.7/5, 2.99m).

Disney Channel’s premiere of original series “Good Luck Charlie” on Sunday drew the week’s biggest aud for a cable telecast (4.69 million) and TV’s biggest crowd for the frame in kids 6-11 and tweens 9-14. This is the cabler’s most-watched series preem since “The Suite Life on Deck” in September 2008.

ESPN had a pretty good Easter night, first with the Major League Baseball opener between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees on ESPN2 (1.2/3 in 18-49, 3.23m) and then with a semifinal contest in the women’s NCAA basketball tourney on the mothership (1.1/3, 3.77m).

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