'Idol' Still A Powerhouse

FOX's American IdolAlthough down in ratings versus a year ago, Fox's "American Idol" can still be a neutron bomb in special settings--destroying all in its wake, but leaving the furniture.


A special edition of the big show landed with its usual heft--a crushing Nielsen preliminary 9.3 rating/25 share--at 8 p.m. The news of the special show left networks running for cover with just repeats: "Criminal Minds" (at 2.0/5); "My Name is Earl" (1.8/5) and a rapidly sinking "Ugly Betty" (1.0/3).

Fox had a premiere of the new season of "Hell's Kitchen" riding right behind "Idol" at 9 p.m., which took in a healthy 4.9/12, second in the time period to CBS' "CSI" at 5.4/13. "Kitchen" was down about three-quarters of a rating point from its last season premiere.

Other 9 p.m. shows took the night off with reruns: NBC's "The Office" at a 2.7/7 and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" at a 1.7/4. NBC was also in repeat mode for "ER," "Kath & Kim" and "30 Rock."



Somewhat eye-opening was ABC's "Private Practice," which went too private this week, down to 2.8/7 from 3.6/10 the week before. It didn't help that the big "Grey's" lead-in wasn't around to help--all because of a repeat airing.

All this left CBS to pick up the pieces with shrewd scheduling, gaining a win for an original of "Eleventh Hour" at 10 p.m. with a 3.2/8.

Fox was at a big 7.1/18 among 18-49 viewers for the night. CBS was next in line with a 3.5/9. Everyone else was under the 2 rating mark: NBC and Univision, each at a 1.9/5; ABC at 1.8/5; and CW at a 1.7/4.

One surprise was CW's tag-team of "Smallville" and "Supernatural," which picked up overall viewers as well as in the 18-49 and core 18-34 audiences. "Smallville" rose to a 1.5/4 from a 1.4/4 among 18-34 viewers; "Supernatural" climbed to a 1.5/4 from a 1.3/3 in the same demo group.

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