‘Dance’ waltzes over competition

Bee not enough to deny Fox a Thursday win

Fox’s two-hour “So You Think You Can Dance” trounced the competition Thursday on a night where its only original competition was the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The students did provide for some tension-filled moments and ratings grew for every half-hour, including a runover of about 15 minutes in the 10 p.m. slot.

“Dance” (3.6 rating/11 share in the 18-49 demo, 9 million viewers) continued its summer winning streak and was up 6% in the demo vs. a week ago. As of this point, in a summer of repeats and lesser-known reality series, there doesn’t appear to be any non-sports program that can defeat the reality steamroller.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, the bee (1.5/5, 5.4m), which began at 8 p.m., did slightly better than last year’s spell-a-thon when it aired on a Friday, but it was down 25% from 2007’s Thursday broadcast. ABC’s ratings sank precipitously once “Grey’s Anatomy” followed the bee.

As ESPN has done in the past two weeks as well, cabler TNT took away many viewers from broadcast with game five of the Cleveland-Orlando Eastern Conference playoffs. The Cavaliers win earned 7.6 household metered market rating, with viewer totals to come later today.

Both CBS and NBC offered a night of repeats, with “CSI” (2.0/6, 9.9m) faring best. As of Friday morning, until the basketball numbers are revealed, the procedural was the most-viewed show of the evening.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 3.6/11; CBS, 2.0/6; ABC, 1.5/4; NBC, 1.4/4; Univision, 1.5/4; CW, 0.5/2.

In total viewers: CBS, 9.7 million; Fox, 9 million; ABC, 5.4 million; Univision, 3.8 million; NBC, 3.3 million; CW, 1.4 million.