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Fox, CBS in a tight contest

'Idol' boosts Fox, but crime dramas propel CBS, which wins week among

February 20, 2009|Scott Collins

Fox and CBS continued to battle over the prime-time ratings spoils last week. The former relied heavily on "American Idol" -- which remains a formidable if somewhat diminished force in Season 8 -- and the latter on its regular mix of scripted dramas and comedies.

The Tuesday "Idol" was the week's most-watched program for the week ending Feb. 15, with 24.9 million viewers, according to figures from Nielsen Media Research. The Wednesday edition was just a shade behind, with 24.8 million. However, season to date, "Idol" is down 8% in viewers compared with last year.

CBS' "The Mentalist," meanwhile, was the week's most-watched scripted show and No. 3 overall (19.7 million). CBS had half of the top 10 programs, including "NCIS" (18 million) and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (17.9 million).

The return of "Idol" to Fox's schedule last month appears to have dampened momentum for CBS, which is now pacing behind its season average. But given that "Idol" ratings typically trend downward before its finale rebound, CBS and Fox are still locked in a fairly tight race for young-adult viewers.

Overall, CBS won the week among total viewers (11.4 million), trailed by Fox (10 million), ABC (7.6 million) and NBC (6.4 million). But Fox easily took the crown in viewers aged 18 to 49, with a 3.9 rating versus CBS' 2.8.

On basic cable, the top program was TNT's Sunday telecast of the NBA All-Star game (7.6 million).

-- Scott Collins

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Here are the rankings for national prime-time network television last week (Feb. 9-15) as compiled by Nielsen Media Research. They are based on the average number of people who watched a program from start to finish. Nielsen estimates there are 286 million potential viewers in the U.S. ages 2 and older. Viewership is listed in millions.

*--* -- Program Network Viewers *--*

*--* 1 American Idol (Tue.) FOX 24.94 2 American Idol (Wed.) FOX 24.82 3 The Mentalist CBS 19.70 4 NCIS CBS 18.03 5 CSI CBS 17.94 *--*

*--* 6 Grey's Anatomy (Thu., 9 p.m.) ABC 15.16 7 Two and a Half Men CBS 14.99 8 Without a Trace CBS 14.31 9 Private Practice ABC 14.10 10 Desperate Housewives ABC 14.01 *--*

*--* 11 CSI: Miami CBS 13.81 12 Survivor CBS 13.63 13 60 Minutes CBS 13.11 14 The Big Bang Theory CBS 12.72 15 Criminal Minds CBS 12.48 *--*

*--* 16 CSI: NY CBS 11.94 17 The Bachelor ABC 11.59 18 Dateline (Tue.) NBC 11.26 19 20/20 (Fri.) ABC 10.99 20 Eleventh Hour CBS 10.94 *--*

*--* 21 Cold Case CBS 10.89 22 24 FOX 10.60 23 Ghost Whisperer CBS 10.30 24 Fringe FOX 9.83 25 Lost ABC 9.82 *--*

*--* 26 Daytona 500 Post-race FOX 9.60 27 The Biggest Loser NBC 9.25 28 The Amazing Race CBS 9.20 29 Numb3rs CBS 9.10 30 Brothers & Sisters ABC 9.00 *--*

*--* -- The Office NBC 9.00 32 Flashpoint CBS 8.80 33 The Unit CBS 8.36 34 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (8 p.m.) ABC 8.03 35 Heroes NBC 7.90 *--*

*--* -- America's Funniest Home Videos ABC 7.90 37 Medium NBC 7.89 38 30 Rock NBC 7.67 39 Law & Order NBC 7.44 40 Family Guy FOX 7.41 *--*

*--* 41 Ugly Betty ABC 7.40 42 E.R. NBC 7.24 43 Dateline (Sun. 7 p.m.) NBC 6.94 44 The Simpsons FOX 6.73 45 The New Adventures of Old Christine CBS 6.67 *--*

*--* 46 Gary Unmarried CBS 6.54 47 48 Hours Mystery CBS 6.44 48 My Name Is Earl NBC 6.40 49 Supernanny ABC 6.09 50 Cops 2 FOX 5.89 *--*

*--* 51 Eternos Rivales (Wed.) UNI 5.88 -- American Dad FOX 5.88 53 Fuego en la Sangre (Tue.) UNI 5.75 54 Law & Order (Sat.) NBC 5.61 55 Fuego en la Sangre (Mon.) UNI 5.60 *--*

*--* 56 Fuego en la Sangre (Wed.) UNI 5.57 57 Fuego en la Sangre (Thu.) UNI 5.54 58 Kath & Kim NBC 5.51 59 Knight Rider NBC 5.48 60 King of the Hill FOX 5.41 *--*

*--* 61 Crimetime Saturday CBS 5.36 62 Cops FOX 5.26 63 America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back FOX 5.18 64 Cuidado con el Angel (Wed.) UNI 5.03 65 Law & Order: SVU (Sat.) NBC 5.00 *--*

*--* -- Fuego en la Sangre (Fri.) UNI 5.00 67 Cuidado con el Angel (Tue.) UNI 4.82 68 Charlie Brown Valentine ABC 4.81 69 Dollhouse FOX 4.76 70 Life on Mars ABC 4.63 *--*

*--* 71 Tontas No Van Cielo (Mon.) UNI 4.60 72 Life NBC 4.59 73 Dateline (Fri.) NBC 4.58 -- Cuidado con el Angel (Thu.) UNI 4.58 75 Scrubs (Tue., 9 p.m.) ABC 4.56 *--*

*--* 76 Lost (Wed., 8 p.m.) ABC 4.31 77 Cuidado con el Angel (Fri.) UNI 4.29 78 Movie: 'XIII' (Part 2) NBC 4.26 79 Scrubs (Tue., 9:30 p.m.) ABC 4.22 80 Tontas No Van Cielo (Tue.) UNI 4.20 *--*

*--* -- 40th NAACP Image Awards FOX 4.20 82 Wife Swap ABC 4.17 83 Howie Do It (8 p.m.) NBC 4.09 84 Law & Order: CI (Sat.) NBC 3.95 -- Tontas No Van Cielo (Thu.) UNI 3.95 *--*

*--* 86 Howie Do It (8:30 p.m.) NBC 3.89 87 Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles FOX 3.71 88 True Beauty (Tue.) ABC 3.69 89 Tontas No Van Cielo (Fri.) UNI 3.67 90 Crimetime Saturday (8 p.m.) CBS 3.65 *--*

*--* 91 King of the Hill (Sun., 7 p.m.) FOX 3.60 92 Cristina (Mon.) UNI 3.58 -- Rosa de Guadalupe (Thu.) UNI 3.58 94 Aqui y Ahora (Tue.) UNI 3.47 95 Friday Night Lights NBC 3.46 *--*

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