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'American Idol' night 2 draws 29.8 milion viewers

January 15, 2009 |  8:56 am

Fox's "American Idol" held up better than expected Wednesday, averaging 29.8 million total viewers over two hours, down just 2% compared with last season.

The results were somewhat surprising because "Idol's" Tuesday premiere was, with 30.4 million viewers, down 9% compared with the previous year and represented the show's lowest number for a season opener since 2004.

In the ad-friendly demographic of adults ages 18-49, "Idol" easily dominated the night with an 11.6 rating/29 share, or a decline of 8% compared with the first Wednesday show last year.

Why did the Wednesday "Idol" fare better, at least in percentage comparison terms, than Tuesday's? At least part of the explanation is competition. On Tuesday, "Idol" faced off against two of CBS' most-popular series, "NCIS" and "The Mentalist." But on Wednesday, it was working against the less-watched "Criminal Minds" (14 million). Meanwhile, ABC, in preparation for the upcoming "Lost" season premiere, ran an entire night of "Lost" repeats, averaging just 4.5 million total viewers.

Fox's rivals may be in for another very long winter.

— Scott Collins