Fox Takes Thursday With ‘Idol’ Ratings Romp

It’s monotonous, I know, but whenever American Idol airs, Fox wins the evening, and the network dominated Thursday (Feb. 17) in the overnights (and certainly among adults 18-49). Fox averaged a 10.3 rating/share in the 56 metered markets, followed by CBS (8.5/13), ABC (5.7/9), NBC (2.9/5) and The CW (1.9/3), according to Nielsen Media Research data. And American Idol led the night with a 14.0/22 from 8-9 p.m.

Since there’s room for more than one hit per time period, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory nailed the No. 2 slot with a 8.6/14 in the 8 p.m. half hour. It has been 45 years since the Eye net kicked off a season with a comedy anchoring Thursday, but the gamble seems to have paid off.

The season (or series) finale of lead-out $#*! My Dad Says on CBS also finished second at 8:30 p.m., but it dipped to a 6.2/10. Since the network can do better here (Rules of Engagement moves into the time period next week), there is no reason to believe last night’s cliffhanger will ever get resolved. Who is William Shatner’s third son? That’s the $#*!…we want to know.

Even a diluted CSI is still dominant in the overnights, with an 8.4/13 on CBS at 9 p.m. But competing Grey’s Anatomy on ABC (7.8/12) is expected to win the hour among adults 18-49.  The Mentalist on CBS at 10 p.m. also ruled (9.7/16 vs. a 5.6/9 for Private Practice on ABC and an average 2.7/5 for NBC’s 30 Rock and likely-to-be axed Outsourced), but its advantage in the demo will dwindle.

NBC, which is in dire need of a mass-appeal hit sitcom, had only one bright spot: The Office (4.3/ 7 at 9 p.m.). That more than doubled the overnight lead-in support from colossal flop Perfect Couples (2.0/3 at 8:30 p.m.) and always delivers among adults 18-49. And The CW can crow about its top-rated show of the week, The Vampire Diaries at 8 p.m. (2.3/4). But lead-out Nikita (1.5/4 at 9 p.m.) is not exactly kicking ratings butt. Never has and never will.