Nets share the glory

Fox, Eye split week's bragging rights

Early-week fireworks helped Fox notch another primetime demo victory, while Saturday basketball and the return of its Thursday lineup kept CBS in the game.

“American Idol” was the engine that powered Fox once again, but the net received strong showings from dramas “24” on Monday and “House” on Tuesday, while unscripted skein “Unanimous” looks to be a good companion to “Idol” on Wednesday.

Fox tallied its sixth consecutive victory in the key adults 18-49 demo by winning the first three nights of the March 27-April 2 sesh, but CBS rallied to finish on top in the demo Thursday, Friday (tied with NBC) and Saturday. ABC carried Sunday as usual.

Overall, according to Nielsen, Fox’s 4.4 rating/12 share in adults 18-49 comfortably beat CBS (3.9/11), with ABC (3.4/9) and NBC (3.1/8) further back. The Eye edged Fox in adults 25-54 (4.9/12 to 4.7/11) and also led easily in total viewers (12.9 million).

Spanish-language broadcaster Univision again placed fifth for the week, topping both UPN and the WB in 18-49 (1.6/4), 18-34 (1.7/5) and total viewers (3.7 million).

“American Idol” again claimed the top two spots in the week’s program rankings with Tuesday’s performance edition (13.0/33 in 18-49, 31.71 million viewers overall) and Wednesday’s results show (11.3/27 in 18-49, 27.66m).

Behind “Idol” on Tuesday, “House” easily led its timeslot and locked up its second-best scores to date (8.7/21, 21.44m); following the megahit on Wednesday, “Unanimous” (6.4/15, 14.59m) placed a solid second in its second week. Latter is holding more of its “Idol” lead-in than any regular skein to follow it on Wednesday over the years.

Also a standout was “24” (6.0/14 in 18-49, 14.50m), but net’s Thursday laffer “The Loop” is struggling (2.0/5, 4.03m).

CBS welcomed back its Thursday lineup after two weeks off for basketball, and “CSI” (8.0/20, 25.23m), “Survivor: Exile Island” (5.8/17, 16.25m) and “Without a Trace” (5.6/15, 18.48m) all led their hours — although the crime dramas were on the low end of their ratings range.

Another big factor in the Eye’s winning week in 25-54 was Saturday’s LSU-UCLA men’s basketball game (4.5/14 in 18-49, 13.15m).

Elsewhere, new Tuesday drama “The Unit” (4.6/11, 16.08m) continued to look good, while Monday laffer “The New Adventures of Old Christine” slipped in its third try (3.8/9, 11.96m) behind a repeat “Two and a Half Men” (4.4/10, 13.86m).

ABC struggled throughout much of the week, but again hit it big Sunday with the week’s top two scripted performers in adults 18-49 — “Grey’s Anatomy” (9.9/24, 22.35m) and “Desperate Housewives” (9.0/21, 21.82m).

“Lost” (6.7/16, 16.21m) held up well opposite “American Idol,” but Thursday’s “American Inventor” tailed off in its third week (3.7/9, 9.29m), although this remains a good score for ABC in the tough 9 o’clock hour.

NBC was paced by drama vets “ER” (5.5/15, 12.78m) and “Law & Order: SVU” (5.3/14, 14.24m), and also by hot gameshow “Deal or No Deal,” which especially shined with a special Wednesday episode (5.5/15, 16.21m).

New dramas “Heist” (2.5/7, 7.33m) and “Conviction” (2.4/8, 7.63m) aren’t doing much, while Tuesday comedy “Teachers” (3.3/8 in 18-49, 6.71m) looked OK behind one of the season’s highest-rated segs of “Scrubs” (3.5/8, 6.75m).

“America’s Next Top Model” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 4.86m) kept UPN ahead of the WB, with the latter’s midseason entries nothing special.

On Wednesday, “The Bedford Diaries” averaged an OK 1.3/4 in 18-34, retaining 72% of its lead-in from “One Tree Hill” (1.8/6) and beating UPN’s competing “Veronica Mars” (1.2/3). Friday comedy “Modern Men” continues to struggle (0.8/3 in 18-34), not getting much help earlier in the evening from the premiere of unscripted series “Survival of the Richest” (1.0/4 in 18-34).

USA, led by WWE wrestling and repeats of “Law & Order: SVU,” set the week’s pace among ad-supported cable nets. Frame’s most-watched program was Nickelodeon’s “Kids Choice Awards 2006” spec, which averaged 5.94 million viewers.

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