On a night that featured coverage of President Bush’s State of the Union address, viewing patterns were thrown off, resulting in lower than usual scores for the few shows airing original episodes.

Ratings for the roughly 90-minute State of the Union will be sustained by Nielsen and will not count toward nightly or weekly averages. According to affiliate-based preliminary numbers, however, it looks like NBC drew the largest crowd during that 9-10:30 p.m. ET time period.

NBC’s 8 o’clock reality hit “American Gladiators” dipped to a season low but was the night’s top-rated program in demos (3.5 rating/9 share in 18-49, 8.5 million viewers overall). Show’s national estimates could come up some due to irregular running patterns that included some stations in the West airing it after the State of the Union at 10 o’clock.

CBS was its strongest competition with repeats of “How I Met Your Mother” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 7.5 million viewers overall) and “Two and a Half Men” (3.4/9 in 18-49, 9.7 million viewers overall). Fox aired a repeat of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 6.0 million viewers overall).

CW didn’t do a whole lot of business with its 90-minute reintroduction of rookie series “Gossip Girl” on its new night (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.7 million viewers overall), although its numbers shot up at 9 o’clock when the State of the Union began. “Gossip” went from 1.4 million viewers at 8:30 to 2.1 million at 9.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 2.5/7; CBS, 2.2/6; ABC, 1.9/5; Fox, 1.8/5; Univision, 1.3/3; CW, 0.7/3.

In total viewers: ABC, 7.0 million; NBC, 6.9 million; CBS, 6.8 million; Fox, 4.9 million; Univision, 3.0 million; CW, 1.7 million.