'Idol' delivers double whammy for Fox


Nearly 37 million viewers were sucked into the "American Idol" vortex again on Wednesday. "Idol" effectively shut down all competition for the night with an eye-popping 36 share in the adults 18-49 demographic and an audience of nearly 40 million viewers in the final 30 minutes of its two-hour episode.

"Idol" opened at 8 p.m. with an average of 31.3 million viewers and 12.7 rating/32 share in adults 18-49, according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research. By 9 p.m., viewership of the off-key antics of the cattle-call "Idol" hopefuls had climbed to 39.4 million and 37 share, and it peaked from 9:30-10 p.m. at 39.7 million viewers and 17.4/38 in the demo. Overall, the second part of "Idol's" two-night, four-hour premiere averaged 36.9 million viewers and 15.4/36 in the demo -- off only slightly from the windfall Fox reaped on Tuesday (37.3 million, 15.7/36).

CBS' 9 p.m. drama "Criminal Minds" (13.4 million, 3.4/7) put up the best fight against the "Idol" juggernaut, and CBS won the 10 p.m. hour with "CSI: NY" (13.7 million, 4.1/10). ABC and NBC did not climb above the 10 million viewer-threshold for the entire night. ABC peaked at 10 p.m. with "Primetime Medical Mysteries" (7.6 million, 2.7/7), as did NBC in the same hour with "Medium" (8.9 million, 3.1/8). CW was pounded from 8-10 p.m. with "Beauty and the Geek" (3.1 million, 1.5/4) and 9 p.m.'s "One Tree Hill" (2.2 million, 1.0/2).