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American Idol Comes in Second to NBC’s Olympic Coverage

For the first time in six years, Fox’s ratings behemoth American Idol fell short of No. 1. Instead, the top spot went to NBC, whose coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics was helped thanks to several of the country’s favorite athletes who performed on Wednesday, including Shaun White, Lindsey Vonn and Shani Davis. According to early audience numbers, 30.1 million Americans tuned into NBC at the 9 PM hour, compared to Fox’s 18.4 million.

“I talk about the great success of MSNBC — all our cable networks. What we also see is that broadcasting still works. The pipes still work,” NBC Universal president and chief executive Jeff Zucker regarding the Idol defeat.

Zucker added: “You put on compelling programs and the people want to watch, and the people are there.”

Round 4 of Hollywood Week was down on the previous night’s two-hour special, which attracted 23.64 million.

Idol, which has never before not won its slot in its six-year history, fell almost 7 million from last week’s equivalent 9 PM slot.

NBC’s Vancouver Winter Olympics averaged a slot-winning 29.26 million over the course of 8 PM to 11 PM – peaking with 31.15 million in the last hour. The coverage has already forced Lost and 24 to series lows this week.

At 8 PM, Human Target logged 7.14 million for Fox, beating a repeat of Modern Family on ABC which had 5.09 million, and The Middle at 8.30pm with 4.66m. New Adventures of Old Christine put in 4.91m for CBS, while a rerun of The CW’s Life Unexpected took just 1.34 million.<

A repeat of CBS’s Criminal Minds did well in the 9pm hour, pulling 7.96 million. More repeats of Modern Family and The Middle scored 4.37 million and 3.20 million respectively for ABC. A Gossip Girl rerun meanwhile could only muster 680,000.

In the 10 PM hour, a repeat double bill of Cougar Town took 3.14 million and 2.70 million, and CBS showed another successful rerun as CSI: New York brought in 7.99 million.

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