NEW YORK (AP) _ Dancing has joined singing at the top of the television charts.

The return of "Dancing With the Stars" last week gave a boost to ABC, which has been struggling through a tough winter. The competition's two editions last week were second in viewership behind television's dominant show, "American Idol," according to Nielsen Media Research.

With 17 million viewers for its second edition, "Dancing With the Stars" even managed to hold up well while directly competing against Tuesday's "Idol."

A Britney Spears guest shot on "How I Met Your Mother" meant a million to CBS — in curious viewers. Her appearance Monday was seen by 10.6 million viewers, or a million more than the audience for the comedy's first new episode back from the strike last week. Among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic, it was the most-watched episode of the series ever.

The CBS drama "Jericho," which has its series finale Tuesday, was seen by 5.7 million people last week. That's a smaller audience than CBS reruns of "CSI: NY," ”NCIS" and "Cold Case," explaining why the network is canceling the series for a second time. CBS cut "Jericho" after last season, but revived it following a campaign by its fans.

Don't expect the same outcry for the Parker Posey comedy "The Return of Jezebel James." Fox axed the series following three showings after it was seen by only 3.1 million people last week.

Fox won the week, averaging 10.1 million viewers (6.0 rating, 10 share). ABC was second with 9.2 million viewers (5.8, 10), CBS had 8.8 million (5.5, 9), NBC 7.1 million (4.8, 8), the CW 2.4 million (1.6, 3), My Network TV 1.2 million (0.8, 1) and ION Television 540,000 (0.4, 1).

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a 3.4 million viewer average (1,7, 3), Telemundo had 1 million (0.6, 1), TeleFutura 650,000 (0.4, 1) and Azteca 140,000 (0.1, 0).

NBC's "Nightly News" won the evening news ratings race, averaging 8.9 million viewers (6.0 rating, 12 share). ABC's "World News" had 8.5 million (5.8, 12) and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.6 million (4.4, 9).

A ratings point represents 1,128,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 112.8 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of March 17-23, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "American Idol" (Tuesday), Fox, 27.34 million; "American Idol," (Wednesday), Fox, 26.08 million; "Dancing With the Stars," (Monday), ABC, 21.15 million; "Dancing With the Stars," (Tuesday), ABC, 17.02 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 14.06 million; "Survivor: Micronesia" (Wednesday), CBS, 11.56 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 11.54 million; "The New Adventures of Old Christine," CBS, 11.47 million; "Lost," ABC, 11.46 million; "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," ABC, 11.37 million.

ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is a division of CBS Corp. Fox is a unit of News Corp. NBC is owned by General Electric Co. Telemundo is owned by General Electric. TeleFutura is a division of Univision. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.

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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.