By James Hibberd
Updated March 04, 2011 at 04:56 PM EST

Image Credit: Frank Micelotta/FoxViewers looking for something to watch on Thursday might have thought it was National Repeat Appreciation Day, since 14 of the 16 programs that aired on broadcast were reruns. The encore surge was because February sweeps just ended, so after airing original episodes as much as possible for the past several weeks, broadcasters loosened their belts and relaxed.

So that left two shows with new episodes: Fox’s American Idol and CBS’ Rules of Engagement. Guess which won?

Idol had 25 million viewers and a 8.1 adults 18-49 rating. Given the ducks-in-a-barrel competitive landscape and the power of Idol, Fox had the most-watched Thursday of any broadcaster in four years. Rules had 8.3 million viewers and a 2.3.