Nellie Andreeva

Two hours of Fox’s American Idol (7.2/20 in adults 18-49, 21.6 million viewers) dominated another Thursday, delivering the highest numbers on the night with non-sports programming for any network in 3 years (18-49) and 4 years (total viewers). The reality series was down 5% in the demo from last Thursday but, probably boosted by judge Jennifer Lopez’s breakdown at the end of the Wednesday’s episode, last night’s show was up 11% vs. the comparable night last season.

News was a tiny bit better for the other networks than last week when ABC and NBC posted their lowest Thursday nights with original programming this season with all of their series hitting or tying season lows in 18-49, joined by CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, which also posted a low. The rule for the shows airing against Idol last night was: reality/comedies – up or even with last week, dramas – down.

ABC’s Winter Wipeout (2.2/6) rebounded the most, up 16% from last week. But the network’s flagship medical drama Grey’s Anatomy (3.3/9) was down 11% for a new series low. Not facing Idol at 10 PM, Private Practice (2.4/7) was up 4%.

CBS’ The Big Bang Theory (3.8/11, 12.5 million) was up 3% from last week, while its new mate, veteran Rules of Engagement (2.8/8, 9.6 million) was up 8% from the last original of $#*! My Dad Says in the 8:30 PM slot. But vs. its last airing in the Monday 8:30 PM berth, Rules was down 13% to hit a season low. CSI (2.7/7, 12.5 million) was down 7% in the demo from last week for a series low, and The Mentalist (2.8/8, 14.7 million) was also down 7%.

At NBC, Community (1.8/5), Perfect Couples (1.4/4) and The Office (3.3/9) were all tied with their lows last week. Parks & Recreation (2.4/6) was up 9%, while at 10 PM, 30 Rock spiked 15%. But freshman Outsourced (1.5/4) didn’t take advantage, even with last week’s low.  CW’s dramas were both down a tenth in 18-34.

TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.