Sweeps Finale: Fox Wins, But ABC Is Net To Watch

Although Fox starts the summer trudging through the sand, it will still end up being the first network in the water.

The next-to-last day of the season, "American Idol" posted a 9.7/27 ratings among 18-49 viewers--down an eye-opening 21% versus the same show of a year ago, when it pulled in a 12.3.

"Idol" didn't give a good sendoff to the summer reality show "On the Lot," the Steven Spielberg-Mark Burnett-produced show, either. The show about newbie filmmakers took in less than half of the "Idol" audience at a 3.9 rating.

Still, Fox won the night with a 6.8 rating/18 share; it will also win the May sweeps and the season among 18-49 viewers.

Media analysts say that while "Idol" is down, it is still a force to be reckoned with. But they expect some changes in the show next year. There may also be changes with Fox's other big show, "24," which witnessed its finale tumble to a modest 3.8 rating.

Next year, some media analysts believe Fox may be toppled--if ABC continues its year-to-year improvements. On Tuesday night, ABC wasn't far behind Fox, thanks to the finale of "Dancing With the Stars" grabbing a 6.7/17 rating--down modestly, just 7% from last fall's season finale. ABC earned a 5.4/14 for the night.

The rest of the networks were back in the pack.

CBS came in third place with a 2.8/7, with its best coming from a 3.4/10 for "NCIS." NBC earned a 2.7/7 for the night; its highlight was 4.1/11 for "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." Univision ended with a 2.1/6. It had a 2.3 rating for "Destilando Amor" at 9 p.m. CW pulled up the rear with a 0.8/2 for two hours of "Veronica Mars," the series' final episodes. MyNetworkTV came in at half the numbers of the CW, earning a 0.4/1 for "Night of a Million Laughs."

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