'House' makes itself at home

Fox show needles competition Tues.; 'NCIS' paces CBS

"House" overpowered primetime Tuesday, handing Fox a victory for the night despite another new episode of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" and the season premiere of NBC's "Law & Order: SVU."

CBS' new drama "Cane" and the CW's quirky new dramedy "Reaper" had soft launches despite heavy promotion.

"House" averaged 18.3 million viewers and a 7.8 rating/19 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. It was the highest-rated premiere in adults 18-49 for any network this season and Fox's highest-rated drama bow since "The X-Files" in 2000. It also marked the highest ratings ever for "House" without help from "American Idol." "House" was up 7% compared with last year in adults 18-49 but down from last year's 19.1 million viewers, when it debuted earlier in September and without all the competition that it had Tuesday night.

The second consecutive 90-minute episode of "Dancing" (18.3 million, 4.8/13) gave ABC a win in all three half-hours in viewership and the demo. But CBS was able to pull out a strong second place in viewership with "NCIS" (13.9 million, 3.2/9), while "House" had a lock on adults 18-49 in the last half-hour of "Dancing." "Dancing," however, fell compared with Monday's 90-minute premiere (21.2 million, 5.8/15). Fox's "Bones" (8.4 million, 3.3/9), which preceded "House" against "Dancing" and other competition, was up in the demo compared with last year's 2.7/9 premiere on Aug. 30.

"Law & Order: SVU" (12.1 million, 4.8/13) picked up where it left off last year. "Cane" (11.2 million, 3.0/8) came within a million viewers of "SVU" but was far behind in adults 18-49. Still, in total viewers, "Cane" had the best time-period premiere for CBS since "Judging Amy" nine years ago. "SVU" was down 8% in the demo compared with its premiere a year ago but it held up in the demos. A 90-minute "Boston Legal" (10.3 million, 2.5/7) on ABC came in third place at 10 p.m., while the big beneficiary at 9:30 p.m. was "House," which gained almost 3 million viewers between half-hours after "Dancing." "Boston Legal" was down 26% in the demo compared with last year's one-hour premiere.

NBC's two-hour "The Biggest Loser" (6.6 million, 3.0/8) was about even with last year's third episode yet down from last week's 3.4/9. That wasn't surprising given the competition, and "Loser" built steadily hour-to-hour. CBS' "The Unit" (10.7 million, 2.8/7) was off from last year.

"Reaper" (3.3 million, 1.5/4) didn't pop but built slightly on its lead-in of "Beauty and the Geek" (3 million, 1.5/4) by 6% in adults 18-34 and 8% in viewership. "Reaper" also was up in the time period compared with last year's showing by "Veronica Mars."

Fox (13.3 million, 5.5/14) was tops for the night in the adults 18-49 demographic, followed by ABC (14.4 million, 3.7/10), NBC (8.4 million, 3.6/9), CBS (11.9 million, 3.0/8) and the CW (3.1 million, 1.5/4).