MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- If Tuesday was all about the American president, then Wednesday was all about "American Idol," as Fox ran a two-hour version that belted out a 9.1/23 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49, drowning out ABC and CBS, which tied for second with a 2.7/7, and NBC and the CW, which finished fourth and fifth, respectively, with 2.2/5 and .3/1.
ABC's ratings highlight was "Lost" (4.4/11), well above the 1.7/5 for the lead-in "enhanced encore" episode of "Lost." While the original episode of the very original "Lost" was the second-highest-rated program of the night, it tied for a season low.
After "Idol," CBS's "CSI: NY" (3.1/8) slipped 11% from its original-episode average but still won the 10 p.m. time period. Second in the time slot was neither ABC's "Life on Mars" nor NBC's rerun of "Law and Order," which both notched a 1.7/5, but Bravo's "Top Chef" season finale, which whipped up a 2.1/6.
CBS's high point actually came in the 9 p.m. hour, with "Criminal Minds" (3.5/8). It more than doubled the 1.6/4 for lead-in "Gary Unmarried," which itself was slightly higher than the 1.5/4 for an 8 p.m. second showing of "The New Adventures of Old Christine." Both lost around 29% of their original-episode averages.
NBC, conversely, had its low point at 9 p.m., as "Life" (1.6/4) showed 7% more pulse than last week but still looks to be pronounced dead when next year's schedules are announced in May. But expect a return of "The Biggest Loser," as its "Couples" version has been reasonably resilient up against "Idol." Last night's 3.3/9 was 120% higher than the result for "Knight Rider," the show parked in the time slot last week.
The CW repeated its recent rerun scheduling with predictable outcomes: a 0.4/1 for "Privileged" and a 0.2/1 for "90210."
WHAT TO WATCH:
Thursday: The Dow's down double digits for the year. First-time unemployment claims are at a 26-year high. And this fiscal year the federal deficit will be $1.75 trillion. Time to take a break and get away from all the scary stuff by watching "Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five," a half-hour riff on the theatrical movie (8 p.m. on NBC).
Friday: OK, break's over. Back to the scary stuff. But this time, skip the cable crossfire and opt for the reasoned, seasoned analysis of David Brooks and Mark Shields on PBS's "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Normally CBS would breathe easy with ABC running reruns of "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice." But "Idol" has a special Thursday edition, which should mean a tighter ratings race.
NOTE: All ratings based on adults 18-49. A share is a percentage of adults 18-49 who have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all adults 18-49, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. adults 18-49 population with TVs. Ratings quoted in this column are based on live-plus-same-day unless otherwise noted. (Many ad deals have been negotiated on the basis of commercial-minute, live-plus-three-days viewing.)
John Rash is senior VP-director of media analysis for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.