Fox won Wednesday night in the key 18-49 demo with a 5.6 rating/16 share in Nielsen numbers, just edging out NBC's Friends-themed night (5.5/15).
Fox's victory, its second win in as many nights and its 16th Wednesday night win in a row in 18-49's, according to the network, was thanks to a time period-winning performance by That 70's Show at 8-8:30 (4.4/5) and a time period-dominating performance from the American Idol vote-off show (8.6/25). The O.C. at 9-10 (4.6/12) edged out ABC's Bachelor (4.5/12) for second place in the time period behind NBC's 5.9/15 for the first hour of its Friends-themed Dateline.
NBC's decision to use its news show to coattail on the buzz over Thursday night's Friends finale paid off. The two-hour Dateline helped the Peacock to its best Wednesday night ratings in seven months, 28% above its 18-49 average.
Finishing a distant third for the night was ABC with a 3.8/10 for back-to-back My wife and Kids, The Bachelor and Extreme Makeover.
CBS was fourth with a 3.0/8 for 60 Minutes II,King of Queens, Raymond and CSI. Although admittedly it was a repeat, CSI was in the unusual position of third place at 10-11, behind the second hour of Dateline (7/19) and the season finale of Extreme Makeover (4.3/11).
The WB was fifth, with a 2.3/6 for Smallville and Angel, while UPN was sixth (1.1/3) with Enterprise and I'm Still Alive.
The order of finish in households was NBC, 8.8/14; Fox, 7.8/13; CBS, 7.4/12; ABC, 6.3/10; WB, 2.8/5; and UPN, 1.8/3.