Fox's 'American Idol' remains dominant sans Cowell

May 17, 2011 - 3:00 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — "American Idol" is re-establishing its dominance heading toward the conclusion of another season.

The two airings of Fox's contest were the most-watched programs in prime-time television last week, the Nielsen Co. said. It's a familiar role for the show, which has held up well in the ratings despite losing Simon Cowell and adding Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler as judges.

Even Fox executives conceded this week that the show, seen by 23 million people on Wednesday, exceeded expectations. The show's cast is signed for at least another year with the exception of Lopez, and Fox said she is negotiating to stay.

"Idol" has remained a consistent winner among viewers of all ages and in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic that may advertisers seek.

Judging by last week's results, the broadcast networks are far more competitive among younger viewers than in viewers as a whole.

For instance, CBS had 12 of the 20 most-watched prime-time shows last week among all viewers, Nielsen said. ABC had four, Fox had three and NBC had one.

Among the youthful demographic, ABC, CBS and Fox each had six of the top 20 shows, Nielsen said. NBC had two.

For the week, CBS led with a prime-time average of 10.5 million viewers (6.4 rating, 11 share). ABC had 8.9 million people (5.6, 9), Fox had 8.4 million (4.9, 8), NBC had 5.1 million (3.2, 5), the CW had 1.9 million (1.2, 2) and ION Television had 940,000 (0.6, 1).

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a prime-time average of 3.5 million viewers (1.9 rating, 3 share), Telemundo had 1.3 million (0.7, 1), TeleFutura had 480,000 (0.3, 0), Azteca had 340,000 (0.2, 0) and Estrella had 240,000 (0.1, 0).

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.7 million viewers (5.7, 12). ABC's "World News" was second with 7.5 million (5.1, 10) and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.5 million viewers (3.7, 8).

A ratings point represents 1,147,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of May 9-15, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 23.05 million; "American Idol" (Thursday), Fox, 22.45 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 20.74 million; "NCIS," CBS, 17.62 million; "Dancing With the Stars Results," ABC, 17.54 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 14.74 million; "The Mentalist," CBS, 14.07 million; "Survivor: Redemption Island Finale," CBS, 13.3 million; "Criminal Minds," CBS, 13.29 million; "Castle," ABC, 12.6 million.

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ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox and My Network TV are units of News Corp. NBC and Telemundo are owned by General Electric Co. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. TeleFutura is a division of Univision. Azteca America is a wholly owned subsidiary of TV Azteca S.A. de C.V.

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Online:

http://www.nielsen.com