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Play it again, Fox

Net poised for 2nd straight season win

A network record 10th consecutive weekly victory in the key young-adult demo has Fox poised to notch its second consecutive season title.

Powered by the best seasons to date for “American Idol” and “24,” plus scorching scores from second-year drama “House,” the Murdoch net continued its second-half assault on the competition during the April 24-30 frame, which included the opening four nights of the May sweep.

While 24 nights remain to be tabulated into Nielsen’s season averages, there appears to be little standing in the way of a narrow Fox victory in the industry’s most-watched ratings category — adults 18-49. The net logged its first season victory in the demo last year.

Fox and ABC were tied at a 4.0 rating through Sunday (equating to an average of roughly 5.2 million viewers in the demo), but Daily Variety projects Fox will edge out ABC 4.1 to 4.0, with CBS at 3.8 and NBC at 3.3.

The Eye, with its strength among viewers 35 and older, will prevail in adults 25-54 and total viewers.

Looking at the week, Fox’s 4.3 rating/12 share beat out CBS’ 3.7/10, with ABC and NBC well behind in a tie for third (3.1/9). CBS won in adults 25-54 for a third straight week (4.8/12 to Fox’s 4.5/11) and led among total viewers (13.1 million) for a seventh consecutive frame, Nielsen reported.

Fox’s “American Idol” again claimed the top two spots in the 18-49 program rankings, but for the first time this season, the Wednesday results edition (11.6/28 in 18-49, 28.27 million viewers overall) finished ahead of the Tuesday performance show (11.5/30, 28.67m).

Tuesday also saw Fox’s “House” establish more series highs (9.9/24 in 18-49, 24.52m), retaining a hefty 88% of its “Idol” lead-in and standing as the week’s No. 1 scripted program in 18-49 and 25-54.

Net also won Saturday in demos, thanks to the highest-rated “America’s Most Wanted” in nine weeks (2.8/9 in 18-49, 6.95m).

CBS was paced by “CSI” (8.7/22 in 18-49, 27.36m), which ranked No. 6 for the week in 18-49, No. 4 in 25-54 and No. 3 in total viewers. “Survivor” (5.9/18, 17.09m) and “Without a Trace” (5.5/15, 17.93m) also led their Thursday hours (Daily Variety, May 1).

In addition to “Trace,” CBS crime dramas claimed victories in the 10 o’clock hour on Monday with “CSI: Miami” (6.2/16, 18.75m), Wednesday with “CSI: NY” (5.2/14, 15.23m) and Friday with “Numbers” (3.5/11, 12.32m).

ABC had two of the week’s top three dramas in 18-49 with “Grey’s Anatomy” (9.7/23, 20.76m) and “Desperate Housewives” (8.9/20, 21.30m). On the other end of the spectrum, net’s “Commander in Chief” (1.8/5, 6.51m) hit a low Thursday, and Friday’s “Daytime Emmy Awards” slumped to its weakest scores to date (1.7/6, 6.08m).

At NBC, “Deal or No Deal” won all three of its hours, with Wednesday’s edition (5.0/14 in 18-49, 15.24m) the net’s No. 2 program for the week in demos behind “ER” (5.2/14, 12.34m).

Tuesday comedy “Teachers” has lost steam (2.3/5 in 18-49, 4.70m), retaining just 79% of its lead-in from “Scrubs” (2.9/7, 6.00m).

On the ad-supported cable front, NBA playoff action helped TNT move to the week’s lead among adults 18-49 (0.95 rating). And although it was outside primetime, ESPN’s “NFL Draft” on Saturday (noon-8 p.m. ET) was the week’s most-watched cable program (5.3 million), with an average aud of nearly 7 million tuning in for the opening three hours.

The WB and UPN tied for the week in adults 18-34 (1.4/4), led by “Gilmore Girls” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 4.98m) and “America’s Next Top Model” (2.3/6, 4.89m), respectively.

* * *

CBS drama “CSI: Miami” ruled as the top-rated program on Monday of the current week, a night that also saw a strong season finale for ABC’s “Supernanny.”

According to Nielsen nationals, “CSI: Miami” (6.2/15, 19.31m) easily bested timeslot drama rivals “Medium” on NBC (3.7/9, 10.16m) and “What About Brian” on ABC (2.8/7, 6.03m).

The Eye also was either first or second in key categories at 9 with “Two and a Half Men” (4.4/11 in 18-49, 14.31m), while 9:30 laffer “Old Christine” (3.6/8 in 18-49, 11.92m) retained 82% of its lead-in. CBS took the night in adults 25-54, key female demos and total viewers.

“Prison Break” (3.6/10 in 18-49, 8.54m) and “24” (5.2/12, 13.15m) combined to lift Fox to No. 1 for the night in 18-49 and key male demos.

NBC was paced by a slot-leading “Deal or No Deal” at 8 (3.6/10 in 18-49, 14.38m from 8 to 9:02), although the gamer was below its recent average. “The Apprentice 5” (3.6/9 in 18-49, 9.30m from 9:02 to 10) fell to fourth for the 9 p.m. hour, as ABC’s “Supernanny” moved up to second in 18-49 (4.2/10, 10.31m) with its second best delivery of the season.

At the WB, “7th Heaven” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 5.66m) edged up prior to next week’s series finale.

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