'Dance' the night away

Fox series outmuscles other reality offerings

After winning the season by a wide margin, Fox burst into summer last week with the return of "So You Think You Can Dance" finishing in front of other reality premieres.

Thursday's "Dance" (8.7 million viewers, 3.5 rating/10 share among the key adults demographic of 18-49) was up 59% over Fox's previous four-week Thursday night average and was only down a slight 5% year-to-year compared with the more dramatically eroded season finales it ran against: ABC's "Ugly Betty" (8.8 million, 2.8/9) and "Grey's Anatomy" (18 million, 7.0/19) were both down double digits. (Still, the "Grey's" finale marked the highest-rated scripted telecast on any network in four months.)

NBC's easing into its "All-American Summer" reality lineup has been a bit bumpy. "Last Comic Standing" (5.9 million, 2.4/6) returned Thursday opposite the "Grey's" finale to match its lowest rating ever. The second cycle of "American Gladiators" (4 million, 1.7/5) continued to drop.

Also on Monday, the premiere of ABC's "The Bachelorette" was down slightly from last year.

The week was led by Wednesday night's "American Idol" finale (31.7 million, 11.4/30), which jumped to nearly match last year's finish in the demo and improve slightly among total viewers. On Tuesday, ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" (20.1 million, 5.4/14) was the show's lowest-rated finale to date but was the highest-rated results show of the spring cycle.

In addition to "Grey's" and "Betty," a flurry of other dramas also had their finales last week.

The CW's "Gossip Girl" (3 million, 1.4/4) concluded its freshman season with its best rating in months. The two-hour "NCIS" finale (16.6 million, 3.4/9) delivered the show's best performance for CBS since November despite competing against an "Idol" finale. The fourth-season ender of ABC's "Boston Legal" had its worst performance to date (6.5 million, 1.6/4). CBS' "Criminal Minds" (13.2 million, 3.4/8) closer was up 10% week-to-week, but "CSI: NY" (11.8 million, 3.2/9) matched its second-lowest rating ever. The 18th finale of NBC's "Law & Order" (8.6 million, 2.6/7) matched the previous week's season low.

For the week, Fox came in first place (12.5 million, 4.5/14), followed by ABC (8.4 million, 2.6/8), CBS (8.5 million, 2.1/6), NBC (5.3 million, 1.6/5) and the CW (2.2 million, 0.8/3).