Medical drama "House" is rising to new, more powerful ratings levels. But the unsettling report is that "House" has topped the longtime industry leader, Fox's own "American Idol," in preliminary Nielsen ratings. It's the first time any show has beaten the longtime reality show in a given week. "House" earned a 9.2 rating/23 share, nipping the 8.9/23 for "Idol."
That said, final "House" ratings numbers, and those that include DVR playback, give "Idol" the No. 1 spot.
But what's troubling for Fox is that "Idol" continues to slip in its early ratings reports over the last several weeks, during the big May sweep period, when the strong reality show typically soars to even higher levels. Critics have complained that the "Idol" singing talent this year isn't as good as previous seasons.
Analysts believe the easy decision for Fox next year is to finally give "House" its due.
"There is probably more upside with "House" from a business point of view," says Brad Adgate, senior vice president and corporate media director of Horizon Media. "There are DVDs; there is an after-market for "House." The show is creeping up. The gap between the two ["House" and "Idol"] is narrowing. Maybe "House" will move to another night. Maybe Thursday night."
Bottom line: the "House" numbers helped give Fox a 9.1/24 among 18-49 viewers for the night.
The also-rans on Tuesday night were led by ABC--which averaged a 3.2/9, primarily from "Dancing With the Stars," which pulled in a 4.7/12. CBS had a 2.7/7 for the night, led by the "The Academy of Country Music Awards," which earned a 2.8. NBC was right behind CBS with a 2.6/7. Its best came from "Law & Order: SVU" with a 4.3/11.
Univision was fifth at 1.9/5. The CW was next, perking up a bit with the series finale of "Gilmore Girls" at a 2.2/6. That gave the network an overall 1.6/4 for the night.