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TV Viewers Take a Big Gulp of 'Idol'

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By and large, American TV viewers preferred fierce competition between singers over war coverage in Iraq last week as FOX’s “American Idol” rated as the most popular program.

Both Tuesday- and Wednesday-night editions of the talent search were seen by more than 19 million people, according to Nielsen Media Research. The new FOX comedy “Wanda at Large” also benefited, making a strong debut Wednesday when it premiered after “Idol.”

Overall, NBC won the week’s ratings crown, thanks to three separate “Law & Order” episodes that finished in the week’s Top 10.

As for American’s attitudes toward watching heavy news, CBS’s “60 Minutes” and “60 Minutes II” finished 13th and 14th, respectively, last week — behind the CBS special, “Celine in Las Vegas,” which was No. 11.

For the week of March 24-30, the Top 10 shows were as follows:

1. “American Idol,” Tuesday, FOX, 19.8 million viewers
2. “American Idol,” Wednesday, FOX, 19 million
3. “Survivor: Amazon,” CBS, 16.7 million
4. “Law & Order,” NBC, 16.5 million
5. “Law & Order SVU,” NBC, 15.8 million
6. “Friends,” NBC, 15.6 million
7. “Fear Factor,” NBC, 15.5 million
8. “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS, 15 million
9. “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” NBC, 14.6 million
10. “Wanda at Large,” FOX, 14.3 million