'NCIS,' 'American Music Awards' capture Tues.

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NEW YORK -- ABC's telecast of the American Music Awards boosted it to a victory in the adults 18-49 demographic but CBS got its own boost from "NCIS" to win the night in viewership. NBC, on the other hand, saw its lowest adults 18-49 rating at 8 p.m. Tuesday since at least the early 1990s.

"NCIS" was the night's most-watched show, scoring 17 million viewers and a 4.2 rating/12 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary estimates released Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research. It was the best "NCIS" viewership and ratings since last March, the network said.

That far and away outperformed the American Music Awards, which over the three-hour telecast averaged only 10.9 million viewers and a 4.7/13 in the demo. It was up in the demo compared to last year's 4.4/11, although Tuesday night's rating was the second lowest since 1992.

And while that was enough to give ABC a primetime win in the demo it wasn't anywhere near the top show in the demo. That honor belonged to "House" ( 15.1 million, 6.4/16), which brought a rare ray of good news for the week for Fox, which had been embattled by the controversy surrounding and ultimate pulling of next week's O.J. Simpson special.

The same couldn't be said of Fox's 8 p.m. show "Standoff," which averaged 4.9 million viewers and a 2.0/6 in the demo at 8 p.m. CBS got 12.2 million viewers and a 3.4/9 for "The Unit."

NBC didn't really come alive until 10 p.m., when "Law & Order: SVU" (14.1 million, 4.5/12) won the time period in both measures against CBS's "3 Lbs" (9.2 million, 2.7/7), which was down 7% from last week's premiere, and the last hour of the "American Music Awards" (9.3 million, 4.2/11). NBC was quiet earlier in the night with "Target Presents Tony Bennett: An American Classic" ( 6.4 million, 0.9/3) at 8 p.m., which was its lowest rating in the time period with original programming since the people meters went online. Things got better with "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (9.3 million, 2.3/6) at 9 p.m.

The CW averaged 4.3 million viewers and a 2.0/6 for "Gilmore Girls" while "Veronica Mars" delivered 2.9 million viewers and a 1.2/3 in the demo an hour later.

Nightly averages: ABC (10.9 million, 4.7/13); CBS (12.8 million, 3.4/9); NBC (9.9 million, 2.6/7); Fox (10 million, 4.2/11); and The CW (3.6 million, 1.6/4).
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