'Idol' tramples Wednesday rivals

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NEW YORK -- Fox's "American Idol" ruled the night, ABC's "Lost" stayed steady in the demo and CBS' "Jericho" returned for the second half of its season to lower ratings Wednesday.

"Idol" was the unquestioned winner between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. with an average 30.3 million viewers and a 12.2 rating/31 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary data released Thursday by Nielsen Media Research.

"Lost" stayed steady week-to-week with 12.9 million viewers and a 5.7/15 in the demo. It beat CBS' "CSI: NY" (14.1 million, 4.1/11) in the adults 18-49 but "CSI: NY" won in viewers.

The two-hour "Idol" rained on the return of "Jericho" (8.6 million, 2.4/6), which was down 23% from the prior season average of 3.1/9. It was also the lowest original episode ever for "Jericho." ABC and NBC had their own troubles with "The George Lopez Show" (5.9 million, 2.2/6) and "The Knights of Prosperity" (4.2 million, 1.6/4) and NBC's "Friday Night Lights" (5.4 million, 1.8/5).

Wednesday's "Idol" featured the 12 female contestants, from which two will be eliminated in tonight's broadcast (as well as two from the 12 men contestants heard from Tuesday). Wednesday's telecast was up 3% in the demo compared to Tuesday.

The best of the rest at 9 p.m. was CBS' "Criminal Minds" (14.4 million, 4.0/9) ahead of NBC's "Deal or No Deal" (8.1 million, 2.2/5) and ABC's repeat of last week's "Lost" (5.4 million, 2.2/5).

Nightly averages: ABC (7.8 million, 3.3/8); CBS (12.4 million, 3.5/9); NBC (7.1 million, 2.1/5); Fox (30.3 million, 12.2/31); and The CW (3.1 million, 1.4/4).
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