'Idol' Trounces the Competition

Rash Report: Fox Easily Takes First Place on Wednesday Night

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- On a night replete with reruns, Fox used reality to repeat as the winner in the Nielsen ratings race in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic. Powered by "American Idol," first-place Fox delivered an overall 5.6/16 rating and share, well ahead of ABC (2.6/7), CBS (2.4/7), NBC (1.4/4) and the CW (1.1/3).

Miley Cyrus performs on 'American Idol.'
Miley Cyrus performs on 'American Idol.' Credit: Fox
While "Idol" belted out an 8.2/21 to be the night's highest-rated show, it was off 13% from its season average (which was padded during the higher-rated contestant-tryout episodes). Lead-in "Bones" (3.0/9), however, was a tenth of a rating point ahead of its average.

ABC's defining drama, "Lost" (4.0/10), which runs up against "Idol," also was off 13% from its original-episode average. The network retained more viewers for "Lost's" lead-in and lead-out, albeit against a much smaller ratings base: First-hour sitcoms "Scrubs" (2.0/7) and "Better off Ted" (1.9/6) held their averages, while week two for cop drama "The Unusuals" (1.8/5) lost 14% of its series-premiere viewers, which itself isn't that unusual after the promotional press subsides.

The audience attrition for "The Unusuals" wasn't due to high ratings for rivals, however. Time-period winner "CSI: NY" on CBS (2.9/8) fell 15%, probably due to following two hours of reruns: "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (1.6/5) and "Gary Unmarried" (1.8/5), which were off 24% and 22%, respectively, from their season averages, as well as "Criminal Minds" (2.5/6), which tumbled 32%.

NBC was hit even harder, as hours of reruns of the ubiquitous "Law and Order" franchise gave NBC the look (and ratings) of cable. Two "Law and Order" repeats (1.2/4 at 8 p.m., 1.7/5 at 10 p.m.) bookended a repeat of "Law and Order: SVU" (1.4/3).

As for the CW, its lineup -- and ratings results -- showed the promise and the peril of combining the night's dominant drivers, reality and repeats: "America's Next Top Model" (1.8/6) was up 6% and finished third in the 8 p.m. hour but soon squandered its audience advantage by running a rerun of "90210" (0.4/1), which held only 22% of the viewers frpm "Top Model."

WHAT TO WATCH:
Thursday: Police procedurals are what most consider prime-time cop shows. But it wasn't always that way, as witnessed by seminal series such as "Dragnet," "Adam-12," "Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blue." NBC's "Southland" is far from achieving that type of cultural and commercial success, but at least last week's series premiere was promising as a beat-cop show.
Friday: For most, Friday's network prime-time schedule is a nightmare. So switch to "the stuff that dreams are made of" by watching "The Maltese Falcon" on TCM.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
The promising premiere ratings for new Amy Poehler sitcom "Parks and Recreation" will be tested in week two, as its lead-in won't be "The Office" but rather the lower-rated "My Name Is Earl."

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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.

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