One show honors musical excellence and features countless big stars; the other show features unknown amateurs of uncertain talent competing for their first record contract. Audiences overwhelmingly favored the latter this week, making Tuesday’s American Idol the week’s most-watched show, with 28.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen. Wednesday’s Idol came in close behind with 26.1 million, good for third place. In contrast, the Grammys drew just 18.8 million, marking the awards gala’s poorest showing in 10 years. Still, that was good enough for eighth place for the week, and along with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation‘s 27.9 million (No. 2 for the week), helped CBS win overall for the second week of February sweeps. CBS averaged 13.5 million viewers in primetime, while Idol-driven Fox had to settle for second place for the week (10.43 million).
NBC’s highlights for the week included The Apprentice, the new hit drama Medium, and all the Law & Order shows, but it still finished a hair behind Fox with 10.42 million for the week. ABC, too, was close behind, with 10.1 million, thanks to hits like Desperate Housewives (which beat the Grammys on Sunday night with 22.3 million) and Lost (19.5 million). Over at the WB, 7th Heaven, just renewed for a 10th season, drew 6.9 million viewers, helping the netlet beat UPN with an average of 3.6 million to UPN’s 3.2 million.