Must Beat TV: 'Idol' Tops Olympics, Strong Thursday Competition

In a clash of the Thursday programming titans, the networks' big gun TV shows went head to head with each other: "Survivor," "Dancing with the Stars," "American Idol," and "Winter Olympics."

And the winner? The fat lady sings for "American Idol."

But unlike "Idol''s previous trouncings of these "Olympics," "Idol" had the extra pressure of other competitive shows--and, as a result, didn't get as big a lead as in nights past. Nielsen numbers had "Idol" at a 9.7/24 winning score among adult 18-49 viewers. NBC's "Winter Olympics," which had its marquee event--women's figure skating--was next with an 8.0/20.

CBS's mothership Thursday-night show "Survivor" took a back seat, with a still respectable 5.4/14. While "Survivor" was an original episode, its companion Thursday night shows, "CSI" and "Without a Trace," were not.

"'Survivor'" has been a top ten show for years," said Shari Ann Brill, vice president of programming services for Carat USA. "It slipped some. I'm convinced they lost viewers to 'Idol' and the 'Olympics.'" ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" hung tough with a 4.9/12 to wind up in fourth place.



Overall, NBC won Thursday night with a 7.5 rating among adult 18-49 viewers. Fox came in second, with a 6.6--Fox ran a repeat of "Skating with Celebrities" after "Idol," which couldn't hold onto "Idol"'s strong lead-in. CBS and ABC were also-rans for the night, well back of the pack--CBS with a 4.9 and ABC with a 4.8.

NBC's "Winter Olympics" also won in the total average viewer category for the evening. It had 24.5 million.

"Idol" didn't dominate as it had previously. The night before, it posted a 13.4 rating among adult 18-49 viewers. "The result shows aren't that interesting," said Carat's Brill. "They are trying to fill commercial time with singers who have been already eliminated singing encores of songs that got them thrown out."

NBC numbers were good even though it had to vamp with other lesser Olympic events leading into its marquee event--women's figure skating--which didn't air until 10 p.m. It still did a good number, "even though people knew the results before--that Sasha Cohen got silver," said Carat's Brill.

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