Fox Dominates With One-Two Punch of 'House,' 'Idol'

Rash Report: Going Into Upfront Week, Net Holds Lead in 18-49 Viewers

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Here's this week's Rash Report, in which one brave media buyer, John Rash of Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis, dives into a week's worth of broadcast TV ratings in order to illuminate those that delivered, and those that didn't. Look for the Rash Report every Friday at Ad Age's MediaWorks.
Hugh Laurie unseats part of the 'Idol' juggernaut.
Hugh Laurie unseats part of the 'Idol' juggernaut. Credit: Fox

MINNEAPOLIS ( -- Next week, network TV is all about building on foundations, as the broadcasters unveil the fall's new prime-time programs that will join the renewed ones. This week was also about building on foundations, as network TV's top 10 featured several shows that were built from -- or upon -- the success of another.

A first for Fox on Tuesday
Fox -- which goes into next week with the highest season-to-date regularly scheduled programming rating and share (3.8/10) in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic -- built "House" on the programming back of "American Idol." Both shows have benefited, as the combination created a programming block as solid as any on network TV and ended as the second- and third-highest-rated shows of the week. Indeed, for the first time since their pairing on Tuesday, "House" beat "Idol" with an 8.3/22 rating and share, just topping "Idol's" 8.2/22. As usual, the Wednesday edition of "Idol" (itself originally from British builders) was America's most-watched show in the demo, delivering a 10.1/27.

The stunning summer success of the first "Idol" led to ABC to follow Fox's lead; its "Dancing With the Stars" made its debut the next summer and has since become a hit for all seasons, placing eighth this week with a 4.6/13.

ABC will also try to cement the incremental gains that secured it a tie with CBS as the No. 2 in the 18-49 demo, as the network's 3.3/9 season-to-date average was reflected in two other top 10 shows this week. Thursday night's "Grey's Anatomy" (fourth with a 7.5/20, according to last night's Nielsen "Fast Affiliate Ratings") proved again the real-estate (and media) maxim of "location, location, location"; it originally aired on Sunday in the hot neighborhood of "Desperate Housewives" (fifth this week with a 5.9/15), which had created a national content conversation by featuring occasional raunch amongst the ranch houses, and became a breakout hit its first season. And ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" -- a show that's literally about building -- was itself a remodeling project of "Extreme Makeover," and just missed the top 10 with a 4.3/12.

CBS's programming triplex
CBS's CSI and CSI: Miami (sixth and seventh, with a 5.4/14 and 5.2/14, with last night's "CSI" based on "Fast Affiliate Ratings") are part of a programming triplex, along with sibling "CSI: New York," with all three police procedurals contributing to CBS's competitive 3.3/9 season-to-date status. And while the blue-collar sensibility of "The King of Queens" seems a second-story walk-up compared to the swankier digs of lead-in "Two and a Half Men," it's in the programming penthouse as it ranked 10th with a 4.4/11, a remarkable performance considering CBS is changing tenants in the time period next year.

NBC, conversely, is still a work in progress, with a well-publicized ratings slide the last few weeks reflected in a fourth place season-to-date average of 3.0/8. But its sole show in the top 10 -- "Heroes" (No. 9 with a 4.5/12) -- is perhaps a cornerstone to build upon, if not a Rosetta stone. Because its blueprint seems more likely to have come from a comic book, as opposed to another TV show, and has impassioned a hard-to-reach audience with its unique vision and has broken through the pop-culture clutter.

CW's ratings achievement
And even CW, a new network saying goodbye to some old programs such as "The Gilmore Girls" and "Seventh Heaven," had an audience achievement worth noting, despite not being in the top 10: The 10's competing on "America's Next Top Model" delivered a second-place 2.1/7 rating and share at 8 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday night, a remarkable ratings achievement for a network with a 1.3/3 season-to-date average.

So, as the networks work on an audience architecture in hopes of not having the recent ratings slump resemble the housing one, there are building blocks for each schedule, Which is why it shouldn't be a surprise that the most anticipated new show of the year -- ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" spin-off -- was already framed-up in last week's two-hour episode.

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NOTE: A share is a percentage of TV households that have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all TV households, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. households with a TV. Ad deals are usually negotiated on the basis of live-viewing figures, though Nielsen Media Research and the broadcast networks release viewership statistics that include live-plus-same-day playback on digital video recorders. All the ratings listed here are live.

John Rash is senior VP-director of broadcast negotiations for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For daily rating updates, see
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