Eye dominates frame featuring return of Fox's 'Idol'

Fox got back in the game with the return of “American Idol” but the net was no match for CBS, which rode football’s AFC Championship and strong perfs by its entertainment series to a dominant weekly ratings victory.

“How I Met Your Mother,” “NCIS” and “Blue Bloods” were among the scripted standouts for CBS, which produced the best weekly average for any net this season for a second straight frame. It has pulled to within a tick of NBC for the season’s lead among adults 18-49.

“Idol,” meanwhile, returned down from last year but still produced ratings rarely seen these days aside from CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory.”

Overall for the Jan. 14-20 frame, according to Nielsen, CBS led in 18-49 with a 4.2 rating/12 share, followed by Fox (2.6/7), ABC (1.7/5), Univision (1.6/4) and NBC (1.2/3). In total viewers, the Eye’s average aud of 15.9 million was nearly as much as Fox, ABC and NBC combined.

Leading the way for CBS was Sunday’s AFC Championship between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots (16.8/41 in 18-49, 47.71m), which logged the best numbers for any telecast since last year’s Super Bowl on NBC.

Even excluding the big football game, CBS dominated with seven of the week’s top 10 series telecasts in 18-49, led by “NCIS” (3.9/11 in 18-49, 22.86m), which logged the second largest overall audience in its 10-season history. (And with 3-day DVR playback viewership added in, the show moved above 25 million viewers for the first time.)

Monday leadoff hitter “How I Met Your Mother” hit a season high in 18-49 (3.9/11, 10.51m), and that helped “2 Broke Girls” at 9 as it matched its season best (4.1/10, 12.45m).

CBS had a solid Friday as well with “Undercover Boss” (1.9/6, 9.45m), “CSI: NY” (1.6/5, 10.68m) and “Blue Bloods” (1.5/5, 11.64m), all of which matched or set season highs in various categories.

“Blue Bloods” had its best 25-54 score (2.5/7) and largest overall aud since February 2012. And CBS noted that it was first scripted Friday series to average more than 13 million viewers in 10 years.

At Fox, the two-hour season premiere of “American Idol” (6.0/16, 17.93m) came in down 19% from last year but was the week’s No. 1 series in key demos. It bested the season’s previous top score for a reality show by 22% in 18-49 (6.0 vs. a 4.9 for NBC’s “The Voice” finale) and by 7% in total viewers (17.9 million vs. 17.4 million for ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” finale).

Thursday’s two-hour seg held on to most of that audience (5.6/15, 16.28m), though it didn’t have to face originals of CBS comedies “Big Bang Theory” or “Two and a Half Men.” It managed to come within a tick of last year’s Thursday preem in 18-49 (5.7) while improving on a year ago by a surprising 20% in adults 18-34 (4.9 vs. 4.1).

ABC claimed the week’s top scripted series in 18-49, “Modern Family” (4.3/11, 11.00m), while its Thursday drama “Scandal” remained hot (2.6/7, 7.93m). But CBS’ Sunday football game sent dramas “Once Upon a Time” (2.4/6, 7.68m) and “Revenge” (1.7/4, 5.75m) to season lows.

NBC had a quiet post-football week, led by Monday’s “The Biggest Loser” (2.4/6, 6.32m) and Tuesday’s “The Office” (2.1/5, 4.15m). The net isn’t faring too well behind “The Office,” though, with new half-hour “1600 Penn” (1.2/3, 3.04m).

CW was paced as usual by “The Vampire Diaries” (1.4/4, 2.95m), but it was much slower going for its other “Diaries” skein, “The Carrie Diaries,” which had a modest bow on Monday (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.61m). Still, if you add up the three airings for the show, it was sampled by 3.65 million viewers in its premiere week.

Top shows on cable in 18-49 were BET’s premiere of “Real Husbands of Hollywood” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 4.15m), Discovery’s “Gold Rush” (1.8/5, 4.62m) and USA’s “WWE Raw” (1.7/5, 4.47m). The BET comedy-improv series stood as TV’s No. 1 show on Tuesday in adults 18-34 (2.3/7).

OWN drew some of its best numbers ever with Oprah Winfrey’s two-part interview with Lance Armstrong, which drew 3.2 million viewers on Thursday (4.3 million if you count both airings on the night) and 1.8 million on Friday (and 2.4 million for the two airings).

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