Fox captivates viewers, demo in weekly wins

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NEW YORK -- ABC traveled down a happy trail last week with "October Road," giving the network its strongest companion program to its hit "Grey's Anatomy."

Meanwhile, Fox's "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" beat all the competition at 8 p.m. and a slot after "American Idol" breathed new life into the underperforming sitcom " 'Til Death." Fox won primetime in viewership and adults 18-49, according to Nielsen Media Research.

NBC won Monday night's primetime in viewership and tied Fox in adults 18-49 on the strength of "Deal or No Deal" (16.8 million, 4.8 rating/13 share in adults 18-49). Fox was lifted by "24" (12.4 million, 4.6/11). Tuesday belonged to a two-hour "Idol" (29.8 million, 11.7/31) that blew away mostly repeat competition.

" 'Til Death" (14.1 million, 5.8/15) was the latest show to benefit from getting the "Idol" lead-in on Wednesday with its strongest ratings ever following Wednesday's half-hour "Idol" (26.2 million, 10.1/26). "Bones" (10.4 million, 3.5/10) won at 8 p.m., nuking, among other things, CBS' "Jericho" (7.8 million, 2.3/7). ABC's "Lost" (12.5 million, 5.4/15) won its time period against repeats.

Thursday belonged to ABC, which saw "Grey's" (22.7 million, 9.0/23) give a big boost to the premiere of the drama "October Road" (13.9 million, 5.6/15). But "Ugly Betty" (10.8 million, 3.5/10) was beaten by Fox's "Fifth Grader" (12.6 million, 4.6/13). NBC premiered "Andy Barker, PI" (6 million, 2.4/6) and "Raines" (10.5 million, 2.9/8) later Thursday.

For CBS, most of Thursday, Friday and Saturday -- day and primetime -- was about NCAA men's basketball. While overall ratings were up 4% for the first two rounds, the tournament hasn't been faring as well in primetime. CBS averaged 11 million viewers for three telecasts this weekend, down 1% from the same period last year. Seven primetime telecasts averaged 9.7 million viewers, down 6% from a year ago. It's the lowest ratings for the NCAA tournament in primetime since 2003, when it coincided with the start of the Iraq War.

NBC returned "Identity" (9 million, 2.8/8), which strongly competed against basketball on CBS. It built from its adults 18-49 lead-in of "1 vs. 100" (9.1 million, 2.4/8).

Sunday belonged to CBS, which had strong ratings from a basketball-delayed "60 Minutes" (14.4 million, 3.6/10), "The Amazing Race" (12 million, 3.9/10) and "Cold Case" (15.1 million, 4.2/10). That was helped by the fact that all of ABC's schedule was repeats. NBC had a "Deal" repeat, but "Grease: You're the One That I Want" (6.8 million, 1.9/5) and "The Apprentice" (7.2 million, 2.8/7) were new as were Fox's "The War at Home" (3.4 million, 1.5/5) and two shots of "The Winner," at 8:30 p.m. (5.5 million, 2.7/7) and at 9:30 p.m. (5.1 million, 2.6/6).

For the week, Fox averaged 11.3 million viewers and a 4.4/12 in the demo, followed by CBS (10.7 million, 3.4/9), NBC (8.3 million, 2.5/7), ABC (7.9 million, 2.8/8), the CW (3.1 million, 1.2/3) and MyNetworkTV (900,000, 0.3/8).
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