Reality skein beats all comers

“American Idol” continues to find comfort in its new Thursday home. The reality giant scored best of any program and, with the help of “Bones,” propelled Fox to win the first night of the February sweep.

According to early estimates from Nielsen, “Idol” drew a 7.5 rating/20 share in the 18-49 and 21.7 million viewers overall. Retention from last week was 97% in both the demo and overall viewers. The stat is impressive in that “Idol” was up against an original episode of CBS’ winning skein “The Big Bang Theory” last night, compared to a repeat a week ago.

“The Big Bang Theory” (4.3/12, 13.8m) was no slouch at 8 o’clock, however, easily being second best. Eye saw a drop-off with “$#*! My Dad Says” (2.8/7.8, 10.5m) a half-hour later, but the combination was still good enough to defeat ABC’s “Wipeout” (2.5/7, 7.9m) and a sitcom doubleheader of “Community” (2.0/5, 4.3m) and “Perfect Couples” (1.4/4, 3m). “Wipeout” help up well from a week ago, up slightly in the demo and total viewers.

“Perfect Couples” doesn’t look like it may not be around long. Laffer lost nearly 500,000 from a week ago and about 1.3 million viewers from its “Community” lead-in.

The 9 o’clock hour is one of the most contentious of the week. “Grey’s Anatomy” (4.2/11, 11.1m) took the timeslot, but “CSI” (3.0/8, 13.8m) drew the most viewers.

“Bones” is certainly thankful for having “Idol” as a lead-in. The longtime Fox drama scored a 3.3/9, 10.1m, though that was down 16% from last week.

NBC’s all-comedy Thursday lineup has been a mixed bag, but “The Office” remains the Peacock’s top player. Steve Carell skein (3.7/9, 7.3m) was best in the male demos and gave cover to “Parks and Recreation” (2.5/6, 5m), which has a small but loyal aud.

Net’s “30 Rock” was impressively flat versus last week at 10 p.m. That’s good news for NBC as both “The Mentalist” (2.8/8, 15m) and a season low “Private Practice” (2.6/7, 7.1m) offered originals after being in rerun mode a week ago.

Over at the CW, “The Vampire Diaries” (1.4/4, 3.1m) and “Nikita” (0.9/2, 2.4m) were slightly down.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 5.4/14; CBS, 3.1/8; ABC, 3.1/8; NBC, 2.3/6; Univision, 1.2/4; CW, 1.2/3.

In total viewers: Fox, 15.9 million; CBS, 13.6 million; ABC, 8.7 million; NBC, 4.7 million; Univision, 3.6 million; CW, 2.7 million.

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