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

2/08/2004 07:00:00 PM Eastern

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.

March