cee_lo_green_040512_web.jpgNEW YORK (AP) — Of the three competition shows that dominate prime-time television, only NBC's The Voice is on the ascent.

The music contest with Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton as coaches is giving NBC something positive after years of bad news in the ratings. In only its second season, The Voice is competitive with Fox's American Idol and ABC's Dancing With the Stars.

Voice’s viewership is up 36 percent over last season, the Nielsen ratings company said. That number is somewhat skewed by a second season premiere that directly followed the Super Bowl, but even with that episode discounted, viewership is still up by 22 percent.

By contrast, Idol viewership is down 21 percent on Wednesday nights compared to last year and 20 percent on Thursdays, Nielsen said. ABC's Dancing With the Stars was the second most-popular show on TV last week with the premiere of its 14th cycle, but that was still down 17 percent from the first episode last spring.

The Voice's positive atmosphere, with coaches instead of judges, seems to have struck a chord, said Paul Telegdy, head of alternative programming at NBC.

Idol and Dancing are also old by television standards, and that's reflected in their audiences, too. The median age of an Idol viewer this

season is 48, Nielsen said, and the show had many more younger viewers when it was new. The first Dancing episode this season attracted an audience with a median age of nearly 59. The Voice’s audience has a median age of 43.

“It's just human nature to think about what's new and what's fresh,” Telegdy said.

Both Dancing With the Stars and the new American Idol had larger audiences than The Voice last week, Nielsen said. But in a measurement of viewers aged 18-to-49, the demographic NBC most cares about, The Voice was second only to Wednesday's Idol edition.


Photo: Cee Lo Green