Delayed Dayton 500 provides spark for Fox on Monday

Auto racing’s Daytona 500, postponed about 36 hours due to bad weather, moved to primetime Monday and enabled Fox to score a rare victory on the night. Net finished a bit ahead of NBC, whose “Smash” edged up in its fourth week despite modest declines for lead-in The Voice.”

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “The Voice” averaged a 5.4 rating/13 share in adults 18-49 and 13.9 million viewers overall, down in the neighborhood of 8%-10% week to week but still easily the night’s No. 1 series — and up about 20% vs. the comparable fourth episode of its rookie season a year ago. It was followed by “Smash” (2.4/6 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall), which was up a tick week to week — and up three-tenths in the 10:30 p.m. half-hour — to finish in a virtual demo tie with CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0.”

Fox’s ratings for NASCAR’s Daytona 500 race are subject to revision as the preliminaries do not accurately reflect live viewing in all time zones. But in the early numbers released by Nielsen, the rain-delayed race averaged a 4.5/11 in adults 18-49 and 13.9 million viewers overall on the net’s affiliates from 8 to 11. Fox, which has been finishing fourth on the night in recent weeks, is expected to win the night.

The Daytona 500 took a toll on most of CBS’ lineup. Though “How I Met Your Mother” (3.6/10 in 18-49, 9.1 million viewers overall) and “2 Broke Girls” (3.7/9 in 18-49, 10.1 million viewers overall) held up OK, “Two and a Half Men” (3.6/9 in 18-49, 11.8 million viewers overall), “Mike & Molly” (2.9/7 in 18-49, 10.1 million viewers overall) and “Hawaii Five-0″ (2.5/6 in 18-49, 9.4 million viewers overall) were all down by about 15% week to week.

ABC edged up with its combo of “The Bachelor” (2.6/6 in 18-49, 8.0 million viewers overall) and “Castle” (2.2/5 in 18-49, 8.5 million viewers overall), with the latter hitting a five-week high.

And at CW, struggling leadoff drama “Gossip Girl” (0.5/1 in 18-49, 1.2 million viewers overall) was up in the net’s target demo of adults 18-34 (0.7/2). And at 9, “Hart of Dixie,” likely affected by the NASCAR race on Fox, edged down (0.5/1 in 18-49, 1.4 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 4.5/11; NBC, 4.4/11; CBS, 3.1/8; ABC, 2.4/6; Univision, 1.5/4; CW, 0.5/1.

In total viewers: Fox, 13.9 million; NBC, 12.1 million; CBS, 10.0 million; ABC, 8.3 million; Univision, 3.7 million; CW, 1.4 million.

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