Fox rules TV week with Super Bowl, "House," "Idol"

Tue Feb 5, 2008 3:06pm EST
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By Paul Thomasch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fox swept prime-time television ratings last week, thanks to Sunday's broadcast of the New York Giants' dramatic victory in Super Bowl XLII, the most-watched sporting event in U.S. history.

In a week dominated every year by whichever network broadcasts the Super Bowl, Fox also posted strong ratings from its hospital drama "House," which followed the game, and two episodes of "American Idol," Nielsen Media Research data showed on Tuesday.

Indeed, News Corp's Fox broadcast the top seven rated shows among 18-49 year-old viewers, the group most prized by advertisers, for the week ended February 3.

Walt Disney Co's ABC programs rounded out the top 10 prime-time shows for the week, with two episodes of the mysterious castaway drama "Lost" and the debut of "Eli Stone."

So far this season, when viewership has been undermined by a screenwriters' strike, Fox ratings have been up 17 percent, while ABC and NBC ratings have each been down 9 percent, and CBS ratings have been down 23 percent among 18-49 year-olds.

But the Writers Guild of America strike, which began on November 5, when TV ratings were already under pressure from audiences choosing to spend more time with alternative media like video games and the Internet, may be nearing an end.

Negotiators for the two sides have agreed to terms of a new contract, which, if approved, could pave the way for screenwriters to return to work, sources have told Reuters.

CBS is a unit of CBS Corp and NBC is majority-owned by General Electric Co.

(Reporting by Paul Thomasch, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

<p>New York Giants receiver David Tyree (R) hauls in a Eli Manning (not pictured) pass as New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison (37) defends in the fourth quarter for a first down during Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Arizona February 3, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Topping</p>