Fox's expanded vote-off American Idol show -- one hour from 9 p.m.-10 p.m. -- powered the network to an 18-49 and household win Wednesday night, with some strong support from That 70s Show and a plug for the film The Day After Tomorrow, which is being released by none other than Twentieth Century Fox.
Fox claimed an 8.1 rating/22 share for the night in 18-49, according to Nielsen overnight numbers.
That 70's Show won its time period at 8-8:30 by a wide margin with a 5.0/16 to second-place ABC's 3.2/10 for My Wife and Kids. The Day After Tomorrow at 8:30 was actually the second highest rated show in 18-49 (7.2/20) after Idol (10.1/25). Of course, it might have snagged some viewers tuning in expecting the vote-off show, which has generally been in that time period (could that have been the programming strategy?)
ABC took second in 18-49's for the night with a 4.6/12 primarily on the strenght of two hours worth of Bachelor.
NBC was third for the night in the demo with a 3.7/10 on the strength of Law & Order, which the network has just renewed for a bunch more years.
CBS came in fourth in 18-49s with a 3.2/8 for King of Queens, Raymond and a Carol Burnett clip show. Burnett may skew older, but the special still managed to tie the sitcoms' 9-10 combined number for best rating/share in the demo.
The WB continued its 2-plus performance, in fifth place with a 2.1/6 for dramas Smallville and Angel.
UPN was sixth with a 1/3 for Enterprise and Next Top Model: Runway Ahead, yet another attempt to recapture the ratings glory days of its America's Top Model.