'Dancing' season-high ratings put ABC on top

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NEW YORK -- "Dancing With The Stars" hit season-high ratings, leading ABC to a win in both key measures in Tuesday's broadcast primetime.

"Dancing With The Stars" was the night's top program in viewers and the adults 18-49 demographic, with viewers tuning into the 90-minute program for an interview with dropped-out contestant Sara Evans as well as dances by the remaining contestants. "Dancing" averaged 21.1 million viewers and a 5.9 rating/15 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary estimates released Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research.

The 90-minute telecast scored the show's highest demo ratings of the season, and above last week's 5.6/15 and the 20.1 million viewers.

"NCIS" (15.7 million, 3.8./10) came in second at 8 p.m., with the CBS crime drama holding steady with last week in both measures. NBC's "Friday Night Lights" (6.6 million, 2.7/7) was up in viewership and the demo from last week's 5.9 million viewers and 2.2/6.

CBS's "The Unit" (12.8 million, 3.7/9) was about even with last week's 13 million and 3.6/9 while "Law & Order Criminal Intent" (10.9 million, 3.7/9) was down from the 11.5 million and even in the demo from last week although around its season average. ABC's sitcom "Help Me Help You" (10.8 million, 3.3/9) was up from its 9.9 million viewers and 3.0/8 demo rating from last week.

The 10 p.m. hour went to NBC's "Law & Order: SVU" (12.8 million, 4.8/13), which was down from 13.9 million viewers but slightly up from last week's 4.7/13. This week's fill-in for the recently departed "Smith" was a repeat of "Criminal Minds" (10.3 million, 3.1/8) which came in just behind ABC's "Boston Legal" (10.8 million, 3.3/9).

Fox's fast-national ratings aren't time-period-adjusted or accurate, although it averaged a 8.6/14 in metered market household ratings.

The CW marked Tuesday with a high for the night in its target demographic of adults 18-34 (2.1/6) and viewers (4 million) as well as tying its highest ratings this season in adults 18-49 (1.7/4) and women 18-49 (2.5/6). "Gilmore Girls" is up slightly in total viewers and tied its adults 18-34 rating despite having to compete against "Dancing With The Stars", while "Veronica Mars" at 9 p.m. reached its second-best adults 18-34 rating in its history on either The CW or UPN.

Nightly averages: ABC (16 million, 4.6/12); CBS (13 million, 3.6/9); NBC (10.1 million, 3.8/10); Fox (10.2 million, 3.4/9); and The CW (4 million, 1.7/6).
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