Fox on top with 'House'; 'Dancing' still strong

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NEW YORK -- "House" overpowered primetime Tuesday, handing Fox a win for the night despite another of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" and NBC's "Law & Order: SVU." CBS' new drama "Cane" came in second place at 10 p.m. against "SVU" despite heavy promotion.

"House" averaged 18.1 million viewers and a 7.7 rating/19 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary estimates released Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research. It was the highest-rated premiere in adults 18-49 for any network so far this season as well as the highest ratings ever for "House" without help from "American Idol."

"House" was up 7% compared with last year in adults 18-49 but down from last year's 19.1 million viewer premiere when it debuted early.

The second consecutive 90-minute episode of "Dancing" (18.3 million, 4.7/13) gave ABC a win in all three half-hours in both viewership and the demo. But CBS was able to pull out a strong second place in viewership with "NCIS" (13.7 million, 3.1/9), while "House" had a lock on adults 18-49 in the last half-hour of "Dancing." "Dancing," however, fell compared with Monday's 90-minute premiere.

"Law & Order: SVU" (12.1 million, 4.8/13) picked up where it left off last year, while "Cane" (11.1 million, 2.9/8) came within a million viewers of it but was far behind in adults 18-49. It was the best time period premiere since "Judging Amy" nine years ago for CBS. "SVU" was down 8% in the demo compared with its premiere a year ago but it held up in the demos where "Cane" couldn't compete.

A 90-minute "Boston Legal" (10.3 million, 2.5/7) came in third place at 10 p.m., while the big beneficiary at 9:30 p.m. was "House," which gained almost 3 million viewers between half-hours after "Dancing." "Boston Legal" was down 26% in the demo compared with last year's one-hour premiere.

NBC's two-hour "The Biggest Loser" (6.6 million, 3.0/8) was about even with last year's third episode yet down from last week's 3.4/9. That wasn't surprising given the competition, and "Loser" built steadily hour-to-hour. CBS' "The Unit" (10.7 million, 2.8/7) was down from last year.

"Reaper" (3.2 million, 1.5/4) was low but built on its lead-in of "Beauty and the Geek" (3 million, 1.5/4) by 6% in adults 18-34 and 8% in viewership. "Reaper" also was up in the time period compared with last year's showing by "Veronica Mars."

Fox (13.2 million, 5.4/14) was tops for the night in the adults 18-49 demographic, followed by ABC (14.3 million, 3.6/10) and NBC (8.4 million, 3.6/10), then CBS (11.8 million, 2.9/8) and the CW (3.1 million, 1.5/4).
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