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Idol Beats the Bunch

Fox's American Idol continues to build, scoring an 11.8 rating/30 share in the key 18-49 demo Tuesday night, up strong over the 11.1/27 for its Jan. 19 debut and the 11.2/28 it pulled for last Tuesday's outing. Fox easily won the night in both households and the key demo.

Fox executives had warned before the show's fourth-season launch that familiarity might breed ratings fall-off for the powerhouse series, though since that warning came at the critics tour, it might have been some gamesmanship, or gameswomanship, since it came from Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman.

In any event, the show shows no signs of losing steam, beating all five of its competitors combined Tuesday night, with ABC/CBS/NBC/WB/UPN averaging a collective 10.2/27 at 8-9 according to Nielsen preliminary overnight numbers.

Fox won at 9-10 as well, with Idol delivering a boatload of viewers to critically acclaimed drama, House, which averaged a 5.2/12.

For the night, Fox averaged an 8.5/21 and an average 12 million households.

While Fox was already flower-bedecked and colling off in the barn when the competition crossed the finish line, is was quite a horse race for second, with two tenths of a rating point separating the next three nets.

CBS was second with a 3.4/9 for a repeat of Navy: NCIS opposite Idol, followed by Amazing Race and Judging Amy. NBC was third in rating with a 3.3/8 for reality special Most Outrageous Live TV,Scrubs,Committed and a repeat of Law & Order: SVU. ABC was fourth in rating and third in share with a 3.2/9 for My Wife & Kids, George Lopez, Amazing Race, and NYPD Blue.

The WB had a strong showing, with a 2.1/5 for Gilmore Girls and One Tree Hill. UPN brought up the rear with a 1/2 for an all-repeat lineup of all of Us, Eve and Veronica Mars.