Three nights of “American Idol” proved too much for the competish last week as Fox continued its second-half rally with a sixth consecutive demo victory.
CBS remained on top in total viewers, and ABC had a solid week capped by huge numbers for Oprah Winfrey-produced telepic “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” but “Idol”-powered Fox was tough to catch. The Murdoch net has moved into the season lead in adults 18-49, edging past CBS, according to Nielsen.
“American Idol” claimed the week’s top three programs for the week in 18-49, with Tuesday leading the way as usual (11.0 rating/28 share in 18-49, 26.9 million viewers overall). Wednesday’s pared-down, 30-minute results show placed second in the demo (10.3/25), followed by Monday’s special hourlong seg (10.1/24).
Overall, Fox’s 4.4/12 average for the week in 18-49 was 2 shares better than ABC (3.9/10), CBS (3.7/10) and NBC (3.7/10), which were closely bunched in a battle for second. Fox scored a narrow victory in adults 25-54 (4.6/11) and won easily in persons 12-34 (4.0/12), while CBS notched its 20th victory in 24 weeks this season in total viewers (11.7 million).
And for the season in 18-49, Fox (4.04 rating) has moved ahead of CBS (4.01) for the first time, according to Nielsen. The Eye, though, still has a solid lead when only regular programs are counted.
The week of Feb. 28-March 6 also saw ABC’s “NYPD Blue” (5.2/13 in 18-49, 16.08m) sail off into the sunset a winner, and the same net’s Sunday pic, “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” draw the best numbers for a scripted telepic in several years (8.6/21 in 18-49, 24.59m).
On the reality side, CBS’ “Amazing Race” kicked off its seventh season with solid ratings (4.9/12, 11.76m) and UPN’s “America’s Next Top Model” (2.2/6, 5.08m) looked good in its fourth-cycle opener. But the WB struck out with its preeming “The Starlet” on Sunday (0.7/2, 1.69m).
It was also a busy week for television’s top-rated crime franchises. NBC aired a record 10 episodes of its various “Law & Order” shows (including the premiering “Trial by Jury”), while CBS chipped in with a record six installments of the “CSI” franchise.
Bow of “Trial by Jury” on Friday averaged a slot-leading 4.1/12 in 18-49 and 14.52 million viewers overall, one night after a special Thursday preview seg (in “ER’s” timeslot) also won (6.2/17 in 18-49, 17.29m).
Also during the week:
–With nice showings on several nights, UPN posted its strongest weekly averages (1.6/4 in 18-49, 1.8/5 in 18-34) since mid-November, easily topping the WB (1.2/3 in 18-49, 1.4/4 in 18-34).
Start of “Top Model” and the conclusion of “Road to Stardom With Missy Elliott” (1.8/4 in 18-49, 4.31m) performed very well Wednesday; “WWE Smackdown” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 5.71m) matched or set several season highs Thursday; and Monday’s comedy block, led by “Girlfriends” and “Half and Half,” had its best night since November 2003.
–ABC’s fading “Bachelor” franchise hit another ratings low with the two-hour conclusion of the latest “The Bachelorette” (3.4/8 in 18-49, 8.37m). Next “Bachelor” bows March 28.
–Fox’s rookie drama “Jonny Zero” nearly lived down to its name, settling for a mere 0.8 rating/3 share in adults 18-49 on Friday.
–It was a good week for NBC’s “Dateline,” which scored solid numbers for a Wednesday special focusing on the sister of convicted murderer Scott Peterson (3.2/9 in 18-49, 10.91m). Newsmag also led its Friday hour (2.4/8 in 18-49, 10.01m) and had its best showing in seven weeks on Sunday with a two-hour seg.