'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."

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.

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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