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“American Idol” continues to build on last year’s big numbers as it nears its finale, teaming with another strong showing by “House” to give Fox its 18th straight Tuesday victory.

Big night helped Fox (4.1 rating/12 share) pull closer to CBS (4.4/12) for the May sweeps 18-49 crown with eight nights to be counted, according to Nielsen. The Eye ran second Tuesday with “The 40th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards.”

In Tuesday’s opening hour, “American Idol” (10.4/29 in 18-49, 24.98 million viewers overall) towered over the competish, matching the 18-49 delivery of the other five broadcast nets and up 8% year-to-year. The WB’s “Gilmore Girls” had a solid outing with its season finale (2.5/7 in 18-49, 5.89m), placing second to Fox among adults 18-34 and young women.

Fox kept rolling at 9 with “House” (7.0/18 in 18-49, 17.68m), and NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” won at 10 with its best score since March 8 (5.7/15 in 18-49, 16.21m).

At CBS, the “ACM Awards” (3.8/10 in 18-49, 11.95m) roped the kudocast’s best demo delivery in three years, while fourth-place ABC was paced by the 41-minute season finale of “According to Jim” (3.3/8 in 18-49, 7.86m).

Also on the night, UPN attracted some initial curiosity for limited-run series “Britney & Kevin: Chaotic” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 3.66m). Its premiere nearly doubled the 18-34 delivery for the season finale of “Veronica Mars” in the same 9 o’clock hour one week earlier (2.7/7 vs. 1.4/4), placing third in the demo.