‘Idol’ powers Fox victory

Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

A dominant perf by the hourlong performance edition of “American Idol,” pushed back a day due to President Bush’s press conference on Tuesday, helped Fox easily win Wednesday in all key ratings categories, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen.

From 8 to 9, “American Idol” (9.4/28 in adults 18-49, 22.6 million viewers overall) towered over its competish, topping the other five broadcast nets combined in 18-49. Lead-out drama “The OC” (4.6/12 in adults 18-49, 10.9 million viewers overall) finished in a virtual first place tie with ABC’s “The Bachelor” (4.7/12 in adults 18-49, 10.7 million viewers overall), with both getting tougher competition than usual from NBC, which benched “West Wing” for a “Dateline” special on “The Apprentice” that averaged a solid 4.3/11 in adults 18-49 and 10.6 million viewers overall.

Elsewhere on the night, NBC’s “Law & Order” (5.3/14 in adults 18-49, 16.2 million viewers overall) took the 10 o’clock hour over ABC’s tough “Extreme Makeover” (4.3/11 in adults 18-49, 9.8 million viewers overall) and CBS’ “48 Hours” (2.8/7 in adults 18-49, 8.3 million viewers overall). And at 8:30, new ABC comedy “The Big House” (2.5/7 in adults 18-49, 6.5 million viewers overall) retained most of its demo lead-in from a repeat of “My Wife and Kids” (2.6/8 in adults 18-49, 7.6 million viewers overall).

CBS was paced by a 9:30 repeat of “King of Queens” (3.2/8 in adults 18-49, 9.5 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 7.0/19; NBC, 4.0/10; ABC, 3.8/10; CBS, 2.4/7; WB, 1.7/5; UPN, 1.0/3.

In total viewers: Fox, 16.7 million; NBC, 10.9 million; ABC, 9.2 million; CBS, 8.5 million; WB, 3.8 million; UPN, 2.5 million.

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