There was no stopping American IdolWednesday night. For the second night in a row the talent contest drew a bigger audience than all of its competition combined. The show averaged a 16.6 rating and a 25 share, peaking in the final half hour with a 17.8/27. That put Wednesday's show ahead of Tuesday's, with an actual audience numbering 30.64 million tuning in in the 9:00 p.m. hour, according to Nielsen Research. The show obliterated CBS's Big Brother, a summer reality series looking to establish itself during the regular season. However, during the 8:00 p.m. hour, it drew a 3.3/5, the lowest ratings for any program from a major network Wednesday night.


Last week's ratings results could not have lifted the spirits of Writers Guild of America members. Of the top ten shows only three were scripted. ABC's Lostplaced highest on the list -- tied, with two other shows four fourth place. CBS's Two and a Half Men came in at No. 8 and the network's NCIStied for tenth. Once again, Fox's American Idolblew away the competition, with the Tuesday performance edition capturing first place with a 16.6 rating and a 25 share. Not quite making the top ten was NBC's 2-hour "backdoor pilot" of Knight Rider, which tied for twelfth. Overall, Fox came out on top for the week with an average 6.7 rating and an 11 share. NBC finished second with a 5.5/9, barely edging out CBS with a 5.2/8. ABC trailed with a 4.4/7.

The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:

1. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 16.6/25; 2. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 14.3/22; 3. Moment of Truth, Fox, 8.4/13; 4. 60 Minutes, CBS, 8.1/14; 4. (tie) Deal or No Deal, (Monday), NBC, 8.1/13; 4. (tie) Lost, ABC, 8.1/13; 7. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition ABC, 7.8/12; 8. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 7.7/11; 9. Deal or No Deal 2/14 (Thursday), NBC, 7.6/13; 10. NCIS, CBS, 7.5/11; 10. Survivor: Micronesia, CBS, 7.5/12.


In a move that some analysts interpreted as an act of retaliation against the NFL for allowing both CBS and NBC to carry the NFL Network's coverage of the New England Patriots-New York Giants game at the end of last season, DISH Network said on Wednesday that it has yanked the network from its "Top 100" package, the most popular of its subscriber packages, and had downgraded it to its "Top 200" package. The move leaves the NFL Network, which has been in a fight with cable TV operators to be included in basic-cable packages, with four million fewer potential viewers. A spokesman for the NFL said, "We are aware of Dish's unfortunate decision, which is not in the best interest of its many subscribers who are football fans."


Hyundai, which had said in January that it was considering yanking its two ads from the Super Bowl telecast because of the declining economy and the spots' $5.4-million total cost, now says it has no regrets about its ultimate decision to remain a sponsor. "It was a calculated risk that paid off," Joel Ewanick, Hyundai's marketing chief, told today's (Thursday) New York Times.The two spots promoted a new luxury sedan, the Genesis, that the company plans to introduce this summer. Ewanick said 45 million people inquired about the car following the telecast and that the company continues to receive inquiries. He said he has now begun to make preparations for the 2009 game. "I'm already starting my sales pitch internally," he told the Times.


A 20-year-old woman who was seen on ABC's Primetimemagazine in 2006 being verbally and physically abused by her father and stepmother when she was 15 has sued the network and the principals connected with the broadcast, including host Diane Sawyer, charging negligence and recklessness. For the broadcast, thousands of hours of video was shot in the Nelson home over a three year period, much of it showing parents Joe and Lynn Nelson, screaming obscenities at their daughter Kyle, who sometimes is seen shouting back in kind. In one scene the father begins pummeling Kyle repeatedly. After it aired, the network reportedly was flooded with calls asking why ABC personnel had not intervened and reported the abuse to authorities. Kyle's attorney, Matthew Norfolk, told the Plattsburgh Press-Republican on Wednesday, "We maintain that a situation of continual, ongoing child abuse could have been stopped by ABC." He charged that by wiring the home for video, ABC "created the atmosphere and environment -- literally set the national stage -- for Kyle to be a victim of emotional and sometimes physical abuse by her father and stepmother, who we believe were dead-set on getting their 15 minutes of fame."