Fox's 'House' goes through the roof

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NEW YORK -- "House" returned to Fox in a big way Tuesday, reaching nearly "American Idol"-like heights for its post-"Idol" episode and breaking viewership records for the award-winning medical drama.

"House" averaged 27.7 million viewers and an 11.2 rating/27 share in adults 18-49, according to preliminary data released Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research. It followed the night's top show, "American Idol," with 33.3 million viewers and a 13.3/33 in the demo.

Tuesday's "House" broke all kinds of records for the show. It was also well above the season average, up 76% from 15.8 million viewers for originals, where it hadn't run behind "Idol."

Nothing else on the networks between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. could even try to compete. CBS offered up repeats "NCIS" (12.2 million, 2.3/6) at 8 pm. and "The Unit" (9 million, 2.3/5); both were the best-performing of the rest against "Idol" and "House." "Dateline NBC" ( 5.6 million, 2.1/5) couldn't get much traction. The CW's "Gilmore Girls" (4.2 million, 2.1/5) tied "Dateline" and beat ABC's "America's Funniest Home Videos" (5.7 million, 1.7 /4) in adults 18-49.

ABC's sitcom "Big Day" (4.3 million, 1.4/3) had a bad day in its finale; a repeat "Knights of Prosperity" (3.5 million, 1.4/3) didn't do much better. Also not doing well were a repeat "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" ( 6.6 million, 2.0/5) and a new "Veronica Mars" (2.7 million, 1.2/3).

But by 10 p.m., the big audiences for the Fox programs disappeared from broadcast TV. A repeat "Law & Order: SVU" (8.1 million, 2.8/8) came in just ahead of an original "Boston Legal" (9.4 million, 2.7/7) and "48 Hours Mystery" (8.7 million, 2.7/7).

Nightly averages: ABC (6.3 million, 1.9/5); CBS (10 million, 2.4/6); NBC ( 6.8 million, 2.3/6); Fox (30.5 million, 12.3/30); and The CW (3.5 million, 1.7/4).
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