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Can't Stop Idol, So Rival Nets Try To Just Slow It Down

NBC and CBS are doing their best to throw obstacles in American Idol's path, but Fox's singing sensation is only gaining momentum.

Last Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET, 30.1 million viewers tuned in to see Simon Cowell eliminate a roomful of wannabe idols on the way to the final 32 contestants, giving the show a runaway first-place finish all demographics.

In adults 18-49, the show scored a whopping 13.1 rating/33 share, almost 30% better than the other five networks combined. The performance logged the show's second-highest ratings ever, behind only last year's finale, and gave it the best ratings of any entertainment program of the season besides the post-Super Bowl Survivor.

In an attempt to at least slow Idol down a bit, on Tuesday Feb. 10, NBC is airing super-sized episodes of Friends, Will & Grace and Scrubs. Last week, Scrubs debuted in its new time period at 9:30 p.m., following Frasier, and retained 100% of its lead-in. That's the best retention for a show following Frasier since April 17, 2001.

On Feb. 17, NBC will air a 90-minute original Fear Factor followed by a super-sized Scrubs featuring guest star Michael J. Fox.

Fear Factor, reviled by critics, has a huge following. Last week, it was the No. 8 show in total viewers and adults 18-49. Last Monday, it managed to hold its own against American Idol special "The Road to Hollywood." In adults 18-49, the Idol special scored a 9.7/24, vs. Fear Factor's 5.9/15.

CBS last Tuesday repeated the premiere of Survivor: All Stars, which had aired after the Super Bowl. While the show did great in the ratings on Sunday, with a 14.9/37, the Super Bowl's late close on the East Coast lost a portion of the game's audience, giving CBS reason to re-air Survivor before it settles into its Thursday 8 p.m. time slot.

Directly against Idol, Survivor: All-Stars attracted nearly 6 million viewers and did a 3.0/8 in adults 18-49, finishing second place in the time period.

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.