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Idol Improves Over Debut

ABC probably hopes Fox doesn't decide to add an American Idol edition Sunday nights opposite its other big hit, Desperate Housewives.

Once again, one of ABC's new hits, Lost, lost out to the juggernaut talent search, at least according to the early returns from Nielsen overnight numbers.

Lost has gone from a time-period-winning 7.8/21 Nielsen rating/share in the key 18-49 demo Jan. 12, pre-Idol, to a time-period losing but still strong 7.3/18 against Idol's 11.1/27 for that show's debut Jan. 19, to a 3.9/10 for last night's Lost outing, though ABC only offered up a repeat episode to the gods of Paula, Randy, Simon, and assorted guest judges.

Idol's 11.2/28 actually improved slightly on its debut numbers and powered Fox to a convincing win on the night with an 8.7/21 average.

It was a horse race for distant second, with CBS (4.0/10) edging out ABC (3.9/10) on the night in the 18-49 demo, primarily on the strength of CSI: NY, which one its time period with a 5.8/15 up against a news special on NBC, a favor since the Law & Order episode normally in that slot has been beating CSI: NY the past couple of weeks, and a repeat of Wife Swap on ABC.

ABC's best show was not lost but Alias at a 4.9/11. While ABC was looking for a one-two punch with Lost and Alias, the two punch was parried by Fox, with Simple life taking its massive American Idol lead-in and holding on to enough of it to score a convincing win over Alias at 9 p.m. with a 6.2/14.

NBC trailed with a 2.8/7 for its lineup of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search, which has drawn few oglers to its expanse of skin; West Wing and the news special.

The WB was fifth with a 1.4/3 for Smallville and Jack & Bobby. UPN was sixth with a .9/2 for Road to Stardom, the talent search that is has scheduled against American Idol, and drama Kevin Hill.

The above ratings/shares represent "Fast Nationals," which are overnight ratings from all available markets (representing about 99% of the country for the Big Four, and more like 88%for the netlets). The numbers are based on time period performance and so do not accurately reflect the ratings/shares of live events.