'Idol' slips; Fox doesn't miss a beat

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Despite "American Idol" taking some well-publicized ratings hits, Fox won its 15th consecutive week in the Nielsens and actually managed to exceed last year's performance.

"Idol" is most definitely down, with Tuesday's edition hitting a five-year-low (23.7 million, 8.8 rating in adults 18-49 rating and a 23 share) and on Wednesday falling to a four-year low (23.3 million, 8.8/22).

Yet Fox was up 8% in the demo for the week ending April 20 thanks partly to a more sturdy Thursday lineup this season -- "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" (9.2 million, 2.5/8) and "Don't Forget the Lyrics" (9.3 million, 3.1/8) -- and a strong performance by its in-season edition of "Hell's Kitchen" (10.6 million, 4.7/12).

On the scripted side, however, Fox's "New Amsterdam" (6.6 million, 2.0/5) had a finale that's assumed to be the series' last episode.

NBC unexpectedly edged CBS for second place for the week. The Peacock was led by "The Office" (9.9 million, 5.0/13) winning Thursday night amid mostly repeats in the 9 p.m. slot, good for its best rating since its fall season premiere.

The finale of NBC's "The Biggest Loser" also performed well (11.4 million, 4.4/11), especially considering its heavy-hitter reality competition from "Idol" and ABC's "Dancing With the Stars."

CBS' best night continues to be Mondays, led by "Two and a Half Men" (13.9 million, 5.3/13). Since its sitcoms returned a few weeks ago, the interesting story has been how the renewed freshman series "The Big Bang Theory" keeps dropping in the ratings (7.6 million, 2.9/8) while perpetual bubble show "How I Met Your Mother" seems to be catching on (8.1 million, 3.4/9).

The headlines for "Dancing" (15.4 million, 3.6/9) are mirroring those for "Idol" as the show keeps hitting record lows. The season finale of "Oprah's Big Give" went big, then went home (10.1 million, 3.2/9), winning its time period and firming up the likelihood of a renewal. With "Big Give" as a lead-in instead of "Extreme Makeover," however, the second week back for "Desperate Housewives" (15.8 million, 5.5/13) hit a series low despite topping the night.

Overall, Fox (8.8 million, 3.2/9.2) won the week, followed by NBC (7.3 million, 2.4/6.7), CBS (8.5 million, 2.3/6.6), ABC (7.9 million, 2.3/6.6) and the CW (2.3 million, 0.9/2.6).
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