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Rising Fox tops Thursday

Crime dramas on CBS also edge up

With “American Idol” and “Bones” on the rise, Fox opened up a slightly larger demo advantage over its rivals Thursday, a night that saw CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” and ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” stand as the top scripted shows despite declines.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, “American Idol” averaged a 7.5 rating/22 share in adults 18-49 and 21.9 million viewers overall to dominate Thursday’s opening hour; it was up 3% week to week and beat its combined ABC-CBS-NBC competition by 12% in 18-49 rating (7.5 vs. 6.7). It was followed by “Bones” (3.3/9 in 18-49, 9.9 million viewers overall), up slightly week to week to pull within 1 share of the demo lead at 9 o’clock. In addition to winning with ease for the night in all key demos, Fox also prevailed in total viewers (15.9 million to 13.1 million for runner-up CBS).

At CBS, “The Big Bang Theory” (3.7/11 in 18-49, 12.5 million viewers overall) ran second to “Idol” at 8 p.m., down a bit week to week, and was followed by the finale of “Bleep My Dad Says” (2.6/8 in 18-49, 9.8 million viewers overall). The net then saw slight week-to-week gains with its crime dramas “CSI” (2.9/8 in 18-49, 13.3 million viewers overall), boosted by the return of guest star Justin Bieber, and “The Mentalist” (3.0/9 in 81-49, 14.9 million viewers overall), with the latter leading the broadcast pack in all categories at 10 and standing as the night’s most-watched scripted program.

ABC saw season lows for all three of its shows, starting with its winter edition of “Wipeout” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 6.2 million viewers overall), as the novelty may be wearing off — especially opposite strong unscripted competition from Fox’s “Idol.” It led into “Grey’s Anatomy” (3.7/10 in 18-49, 10.2 million viewers overall), which was down 5% but nonetheless won its hour in 18-49. And sliding 8% was 10 p.m. drama “Private Practice” (2.4/7 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall), which ran second among the broadcasters in its timeslot.

NBC was down across the board week to week with the exception of leadoff hitter “Community” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall), which matched its week-ago delivery and ran third among the Big Four in 18-49; though it was soundly defeated by its “Big Bang Theory” comedy competition, the NBC laffer did eke out a victory over the CBS hit in men 18-34 (2.3/8 vs. 2.2/8). Recent newcomer “Perfect Couples” continues to struggle to get anything going at 8:30 (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.1 million viewers overall), and the rest of the night’s comedy block matched or set season lows: “The Office” (3.3/9 in 18-49, 6.4 million viewers overall), “Parks and Recreation” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall), “30 Rock” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 4.1 million viewers overall) and “Outsourced” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 3.2 million viewers overall).

The Peacock was edged out in 18-49 for a second straight night by Univision. On Thursday, the Spanish-language broadcast leader scored a strong 2.1/6 in 18-49 and drew 5.1 million viewers overall for its three-hour Latin music awards show “Premio Lo Nuestro 2011.”

At CW, “The Vampire Diaries” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.0 million viewers overall) edged up week to week, placing second to “American Idol” among females 12-34 (2.0/6). And dropping off as usual in key demos, though up a smidge week to week in some categories, was first-year drama “Nikita” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 2.1 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 5.4/15; CBS, 3.0/9; ABC, 2.7/8; Univision, 2.1/6; NBC, 2.0/6; CW, 1.1/3.

In total viewers: Fox, 15.9 million; CBS, 13.1 million; ABC, 7.7 million; Univision, 5.1 million; NBC, 4.2 million; CW, 2.3 million.

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