'Idol' rings 'Bells' for Fox; net wins 5 primetime races

Owns week in viewers, adult demo

Fox claimed all of the top five shows in the key adults 18-49 demo last week and got a solid premiere from its new drama "The Wedding Bells."

Nielsen Media Research said Tuesday that Fox won five of the seven nights in primetime, three with "American Idol" but also a NASCAR-powered Sunday and Saturday night with "Cops" and "America's Most Wanted." It was the first time the network had seven of the top 10 shows in the demo since 1991.

NBC won two nights, the "Deal or No Deal"/"Heroes" Monday and Friday night's game shows and dramas. ABC and CBS were without their powerhouses, "Grey's Anatomy" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" on Thursday, Sunday's "Desperate Housewives" and Monday's "CSI: Miami" that make those nights a race.

With repeats "CSI: Miami" and "Two and a Half Men," NBC walked to a win with "Deal or No Deal" (18.4 million, 5.4 rating/14 share in adults 18-49) and "Heroes" (14.9 million, 6.6/15). It was "Heroes' " highest demo rating since it returned Jan. 22 and its most viewers since Dec. 4. "Deal" wasn't any slouch, either, scoring its highest viewership ever. But it wasn't all good for NBC, as "The Black Donnellys" (6.9 million, 2.9/8) continued to disappoint. Fox came in second in the demo with "Prison Break" (9.7 million, 3.9/10) and "24" (13 million, 4.9/12).

But Fox came back in a big way Tuesday, with "Idol" (27.9 million, 10.9/29) and "House" (24.4 million, 9.6/24) proving an unstoppable force for another week. The CW's "Pussycat Dolls" (3.9 million, 1.7/4) did OK for the network. Wednesday again belonged to Fox, with that night's "Idol" (28.5 million, 11.2/30) as the week's top show in viewership and the adults 18-49 demo. It gave a boost to the premiere of "Bells" (12.3 million, 5.2/13), which was a top 10 show in the adults 18-49 demo. CBS' "Jericho" (8.1 million, 2.2/6) again failed to regain its early season spark; "Lost" (12.4 million, 5.6/15) won the hour in viewership and adults 18-49.

Thursday saw the return of "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" (20.7 million, 8.0/20), which with a combination of its "Idol" lead-in and no originals of "Grey's Anatomy" or "CSI" helped it win the hour by far. But "CSI" (15.4 million, 4.3/11) was formidable even in repeat. "Idol" (27.5 million, 10.4/28) easily won over "Survivor: Fiji" (13.8 million, 4.6/12) and repeats "Ugly Betty," "My Name Is Earl" and "The Office."

On Friday, the demo went to NBC, with "1 vs. 100" (8.4 million, 2.3/8) able to come out ahead of a repeat "Ghost Whisperer" and "Las Vegas" (9.2 million, 2.7/8) beating an original "Close to Home" (9.6 million, 2.0/6) in the demo. But "Numbers" (10.3 million, 2.5/8) won against a repeat "Law & Order" and an original "20/20" (7 million, 2.3/7) at 10 p.m. Saturday was Fox's win though CBS' "48 Hours Mystery" (7.1 million, 1.9/6) drew the most viewers of the night at 10 p.m.

Fox got a boost Sunday from NASCAR and won in the demo though CBS won in viewership with strong performances by "Cold Case" (15.4 million, 4.1/10) and "Without a Trace" (17.5 million, 4.5/12) that benefited from a repeat "Housewives" and "Brothers & Sisters." ABC won at 8 p.m. with an original "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (13.9 million, 4.9/13) that beat "Amazing Race" (9.8 million, 3.3/9) and NBC's "Grease: You're The One That I Want" (6.5 million, 1.8/5).

Weekly averages: Fox (14.1 million, 5.6/15); CBS (10.8 million, 2.9/8); NBC (7.9 million, 2.6/7); ABC (6.8 million, 2.4/7) and the CW (3 million, 1.2/3).
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