MINNEAPOLlS (AdAge.com) -- Fox -- and reality TV -- ruled the ratings race Tuesday night, as a two-hour edition of "American Idol" delivered a first-place 9.5/24 rating and share in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic. That was well above NBC, which itself ran a two-hour reality show, "Biggest Loser" (3.6/9), which led into "Law and Order: SVU" (3.5/9) for an overall average of 3.6/9 (all ratings based on Nielsen fast-affiliate data, with live-plus-same-day results delayed).
"Idol" and "Biggest Loser," both popular contest reality shows, won out over other forms of reality fare. ABC's "Homeland Security" had a bad night -- and is having a tough season -- sinking to a series-low 1.4/4. And ABC News' "What Would You Do?" was last in the 10 p.m. time slot with a 2.0/5.
Not that ABC's scripted series did any better. Two repeats of "Scrubs," the sitcom that switched from NBC, each hit a new network low with a 1.2/3 as ABC finished fourth, with an overall average of 1.5/4.
Reruns weren't any more welcome on the CW, as "90210" (.5/1) and "Privileged" (.3/1) combined for a fifth-place .4/1.
Even original episodes of CBS's scripted series couldn't win their time slots. But at least "NCIS" (3.7/10) and "The Mentalist" (3.8/9) held their own, as each hit its season average. At 10 p.m., however, "Without a Trace" slid 7% to a 2.6/7. For the night, CBS was the only scripted-series network to hold its average against reality's bite: It ranked third, with a 3.4/9.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Wednesday: Take a look at another boom-goes-bust time: the Roaring '20s of "Chicago," just one of the many Oscar winners playing on AMC in anticipation of the Academy Awards on Sunday.
Thursday: With NBC's "The Office" and "30 Rock" reruns, give your TiVo a rest by choosing between CBS's "CSI" and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
After last week's two-hour version, "Idol" is just an hour tonight. How will the ratings retention be for lead-out "Lie to Me"?
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.