Fox’s ’24’ picking up steam

Morning Ratings Flash -- Rick Kissell

Fox cruised to another easy Tuesday victory on the strength of a dominant “American Idol” and a winning – and improved – showing by third-year drama “24,” according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen.

“24” (5.0/13 in adults 18-49, 11.0 million viewers overall) appears to have matched its season high in adults 18-49, winning the 9 o’clock hour in 18-49, 25-54 and 18-34 as well as total viewers. It retained about half of its lead-in from “American Idol” (9.7/28 in adults 18-49, 22.7 million viewers overall), which shows no signs of slowing down and again topped the combined 18-49 scores of the other five broadcast nets.

NBC edged out ABC for second place on the night in adults 18-49, winning the 10 o’clock hour with “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (4.9/13 in adults 18-49, 12.8 million viewers overall). And although it was tough sledding from 8 to 9 with “Whoopi” (1.8/6 in adults 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall) and “Happy Family” (1.6/4 in adults 18-49, 5.1 million viewers overall), things picked up nicely at 9 with “Frasier” (3.8/10 in adults 18-49, 10.6 million viewers overall) and “Scrubs” (3.9/10 in adults 18-49, 8.3 million viewers overall), the latter of which led its slot in adults 18-34.

At ABC, “NYPD Blue” was a solid second at 10 (3.9/11 in adults 18-49, 10.4 million viewers overall), delivering its best 18-49 score in nine weeks and setting some season highs in male demos. Net also ran second in 18-49 from 8 to 9:30 with “8 Simple Rules” (2.4/7), “I’m With Her” (2.4/6) and a repeat “According to Jim” (4.0/10).

CBS was paced by an original episode of “The Guardian” (2.2/6 in adults 18-49, 9.7 million viewers overall).

And at the WB, rookie drama “One Tree Hill” appears to have set another high in adults 18-34 (projected 2.5/7).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 7.4/20; NBC, 3.5/9; ABC, 3.4/9; CBS, 2.1/6; WB, 1.8/5; UPN, 1.0/3.

In total viewers: Fox, 16.9 million; CBS, 9.3 million; NBC, 9.2 million; ABC, 8.8 million; WB, 4.4 million; UPN, 2.4 million.

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