Fox wins with triple play

'Idol,' '5th' are unbeatable pair

Three doses of "American Idol" and "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" boosted Fox to a weekly victory in viewership and the adults 18-49 demographic. It was the widest adults 18-49 margin — three ratings points — since May, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The surprise of the week was the excellent bow of "5th Grader." The game show occupied the enviable post-"Idol" position all three nights and delivered high retention and the strongest premiere on any network in years.

Monday was split between CBS, which won in viewership, and NBC (which edged CBS by a 10th of a rating point), which took adults 18-49. CBS got boosts from "Two and a Half Men" (16.6 million, 5.4/13) and "CSI: Miami" (17.4 million, 5.6/15), though "CSI: Miami" was down week-over-week. NBC's case was made by "Deal or No Deal" (17.3 million, 4.9/12) and especially "Heroes" (14.4 million, 6.5/15), though it got disappointing results from the premiere of "The Black Donnellys" (7.9 million, 3.2/8).

Tuesday was all about Fox and especially "5th Grader," which in its half-hour premiere retained 26.5 million viewers and an 11.2/26 in the demo following "Idol's" 30.6 million and a 12.2/30. Nothing else came close, with "NCIS" (16.2 million, 3.7/9) coming nearest on the night and a new "Law & Order: SVU" (11.7 million, 4.2/11) prevailing in the demo against the premiere of Bob Woodruff's ABC documentary "To Iraq and Back" (10.1 million, 2.8/7) at 10 p.m.

Wednesday continued the momentum from "Idol" (30 million, 11.9/30) and "5th Grader" (23.3 million, 9.7/23). And with both "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "Grey's Anatomy" in repeat, "Idol" (27.4 million, 10.5/26) and "5th Grader" (23.5 million, 9.4/22) romped again Thursday from 8-10 p.m. Not doing well Wednesday were ABC's "The Knights of Prosperity" (4.1 million, 1.7/4) — losing 2 million from lead-in "George Lopez" — and CBS' "Jericho" (8.3 million, 2.3/6). The CW's "America's Next Top Model" (5.4 million, 2.5/6) reached series highs in viewership, adults 18-34 and other demos even against "Idol." Also Wednesday, "Lost" (12.8 million, 5.7/15) stayed steady in the demo week-over-week.

Thursday's "Survivor: Fiji" (14.7 million, 5.0/13) improved week-over-week. Friday went to CBS even with its schedule in repeats against originals on NBC.

Sunday's return of "Desperate Housewives" (18.3 million, 7.4/17) led ABC to a victory, while Fox's premiere of "The Winner" (7.1 million, 3.5/8) couldn't keep the audience for "The Simpsons" (9 million, 4.2/11). The case was even further lost with another airing at 9:30 p.m. of "Winner" (6 million, 3.1/7) that fell even further against "Family Guy" (8.6 million, 4.4/10).

Weekly averages: Fox (15.3 million, 6.2/16); CBS (11.8 million, 3.3/9); NBC (8.2 million, 2.8/7); ABC (8.1 million, 3.0/8); and the CW (3.4 million, 1.4/4).