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'Idol' Slips to No. 2, Fox Settles for a Tie for First Place in Thursday Ratings; NBC Flirts With 1.0's TVbytheNumbers

Fox’s onetime ratings juggernaut “American Idol” continues to deliver lower numbers, based on Nielsen overnights for Thursday night. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the show was down 10% from a week ago in the key 18-49 demo, settling for a 2.8 average rating.

That number put “Idol” in second place behind ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” which rebounded from its series low a week ago, gaining 12% to a 2.9 in adults 18-49. Fox and ABC tied in the demo for prime time overall, both averaging 2.4 to finish ahead of Univision (1.7 average), CBS (1.6) and NBC (1.0).

Fox did win total viewers, averaging 8.9 million to ABC’s 7.6 million, CBS’s 4.7 million, Univision’s 3.9 million and NBC’s 3.1 million.

CBS carried the first full night of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, which turned in a preliminary 1.6 average in viewers 18-49, down 6% from last year. But the numbers are subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the nature of live programming. CBS and Turner Sports carried the tournament on multiple platforms, reporting higher numbers overall. (Click here to see our separate story on tournament ratings.)

NBC had a mix of originals and repeats, with a fresh episode of “Community” equaling its series low with a 1.1 average in 18-49, same as last week. Two episodes of “1600 Penn” fared poorly, with the special 8:30 episode pulling a 0.9, well below the 1.6 delivered by “Parks and Recreation” in the time slot a week ago. The 9:30 installment did even worse, losing 20% from last week for a series-low 0.8.

ABC’s season premiere of “Wife Swap” delivered a 1.7 in adults 18-49, 42% better than the previous season premiere way back in April 2010 but 29% below the “Celebrity Wife Swap” premiere last month. “Scandal” returned from a brief hiatus with a solid 2.7, equaling its most recent original episode.

Fox’s “Glee” equaled last week’s 2.0 in the 18-49 demo.