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'American Idol' tops NBC's Olympics for ratings gold

February 17, 2010 | 10:52 am
Fox's "American Idol" took home the gold Tuesday night, easily beating NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics in viewers and key demographics.

According to Nielsen, "American Idol" averaged 23.6-million viewers and a 9.1 rating in adults ages 18 to 49 (each ratings point in that demographic translates to 1.3 million people). NBC's Olympic coverage going head to head against "American Idol" from 8 to10 p.m. averaged 19.7-million viewers and a 5.0 in adults 18 to 49. Compared with a year ago, "American Idol" was off 8.3% in viewers and down in the demographic.

For history buffs, on the same night four years ago when "American Idol" squared off with the Winter Games in Turin, "American Idol" averaged 27-million viewers versus 18.4-million viewers for NBC.

Fox's strong two hours were enough to beat the three hours that NBC, CBS and ABC were broadcasting. NBC's Olympic audience rose once "American Idol" went off the air, and for the night, the peacock averaged 20.4-million viewers and a 5.4 rating among adults 18 to 49.

ABC managed to find a bright spot as the network was up in viewers and demographics from a year ago, primarily because of a new episode of "Lost" at 9 p.m., which averaged almost 10 million viewers and a 4.5 with adults ages 18 to 49.

CBS pretty much mailed it in last night, going with reruns, and still managed 9.5-million viewers.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Fox's "American Idol." Credit: Fox