'Idol' rules over election coverage


NEW YORK -- When it comes to nationwide competitions that play out on TV, "American Idol" trumps in viewer interest more than anything that happened in New York, California and elsewhere on Super Tuesday.

As expected, Fox and "American Idol" steamrolled the competition in Tuesday night's primetime. The monster Fox reality series averaged 27.8 million viewers and an 11.2 rating/28 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary estimates released Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research.

"Idol" and a new episode of "House" (23.2 million, 9.0/21) stood out over Fox's rivals, which also included three hours of primetime Super Tuesday coverage on ABC, two hours on CBS and an hour on NBC. Some networks may have also had lower ratings due to preemptions.

Fox's nightly average -- 25.5 million viewers -- was well ahead of the other three networks that devoted significant time to election coverage. That number will probably remain just as high, even when the cable news numbers come in Wednesday.

NBC's two-hour "The Biggest Loser" (8 million, 3.1/8) came in a distant second in both hours. ABC averaged 5.2 million viewers and a 1.4/4 for its three-hour primary coverage, anchored by Charles Gibson and others.

CBS averaged 4.7 million viewers for its two-hour coverage led by Katie Couric, and NBC averaged 5.6 million viewers for its one-hour special at 10 p.m. ET.

Monday's Nielsen ratings were delayed until Wednesday due to processing issues.

NBC won Monday night in 18-49 thanks to "American Gladiators" (9 million 3.7/10) and "Deal or No Deal" (13.2 million, 4.4/11). But ABC's "20/20" special on the Holloway case was a surprise strong contender with 12.7 million viewers and a 4.3/11 in the demo between 9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m., giving ABC the narrow win in viewership over NBC.

For Tuesday night, Fox (25.5 million, 10.1/24) won in viewership and 18-49 over ABC (5.2 million, 1.4/3); CBS (6.1 million, 1.5/4); NBC (7.2 million, 2.8/7) and The CW (2.4 million, 1.0/2).