Fox served up a reality one-two punch that propelled the network to the top spot Monday evening with the third season opener of “American Idol” and the 9 p.m. bow of “My Big, Fat Obnoxious Fiance.”
“Idol” stormed back into primetime at 8 p.m. with an average of 24.8 million viewers and 12.5 rating/30 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research.
The stellar numbers for “Idol” and the solid showing from “Fiance” (21.4 million, 9.9/22 share), Fox’s latest twist on the dating-show genre, offered more proof that the only fast-starters in television these days are unscripted shows. However, “Fiance” did suffer a significant drop in its second half-hour (from 23.6 million to 19.1 million viewers, and from 10.8/24 in 18-49 to 8.9/19).
NBC’s 8-10 p.m. block of “Fear Factor” (12.9 million, 5.6/13) did respectable but not spectacular business in the face of the Fox competition. At 10 p.m., NBC’s matchmaking vehicle “Average Joe: Hawaii” (11.8 million, 5.6/13) perked up against lighter competition from a repeat of CBS’ “CSI: Miami” (16.3 million, 5.5/13). CBS was also in repeats from 8-10 p.m., likely in a nod to the drawing power of “Idol” in its much-hyped return.
ABC was pretty much out of the game. Its 8-10 p.m. telecast of the Ben Stiller starrer “Meet the Parents” and 10 p.m. “InStyle: Celebrity Weddings” special added up to a nightly average of 6.7 million viewers and 2.2/5 in 18-49.
Fox led for the night by a mile with an average of 24.8 million viewers and 11.2/26 in the key demo. CBS was No. 2 in viewers by a hair over NBC (12.8 million to NBC’s 12.6 million) and NBC was a comfortable No. 2 in adults 18-49 (5.6/13).