'Idol' delivers double whammy for Fox

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Nearly 37 million viewers were sucked into the "American Idol" vortex again on Wednesday. "Idol" effectively shut down all competition for the night with an eye-popping 36 share in the adults 18-49 demographic and an audience of nearly 40 million viewers in the final 30 minutes of its two-hour episode.

"Idol" opened at 8 p.m. with an average of 31.3 million viewers and 12.7 rating/32 share in adults 18-49, according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research. By 9 p.m., viewership of the off-key antics of the cattle-call "Idol" hopefuls had climbed to 39.4 million and 37 share, and it peaked from 9:30-10 p.m. at 39.7 million viewers and 17.4/38 in the demo. Overall, the second part of "Idol's" two-night, four-hour premiere averaged 36.9 million viewers and 15.4/36 in the demo -- off only slightly from the windfall Fox reaped on Tuesday (37.3 million, 15.7/36).

CBS' 9 p.m. drama "Criminal Minds" (13.4 million, 3.4/7) put up the best fight against the "Idol" juggernaut, and CBS won the 10 p.m. hour with "CSI: NY" (13.7 million, 4.1/10). ABC and NBC did not climb above the 10 million viewer-threshold for the entire night. ABC peaked at 10 p.m. with "Primetime Medical Mysteries" (7.6 million, 2.7/7), as did NBC in the same hour with "Medium" (8.9 million, 3.1/8). CW was pounded from 8-10 p.m. with "Beauty and the Geek" (3.1 million, 1.5/4) and 9 p.m.'s "One Tree Hill" (2.2 million, 1.0/2).
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