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'American Idol' finale ratings surprisingly high

The battle of the Davids propelled Wednesday’s "American Idol" finale to one of the show’s best numbers ever, with 31.7 million viewers tuning in.


Rocker David Cook’s upset victory over the runner-up, teen crooner David Archuleta, capped a historic season for Fox, which amid the disruptions of the three-month writers strike became America’s most-watched network for the first time ever. It also notched its fourth straight season as No. 1 in adult viewers aged 18-49, according to data from Nielsen Media Research.

The 2007-08 TV season officially ended Wednesday.

The high viewership for "Idol’s" Season 7 finale came as something of a surprise, because the show had seen lower-than-expected ratings this season. As recently as earlier this month, "Idol" retreated to some of its softest numbers in years.

But the match-up between Cook and Archuleta evidently proved irresistible. In fact, the two-hour episode was the third most-watched "Idol" finale, after the 2006 showdown between Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee (36.4 million) and the 2003 face-off between Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken (38.1 million).

Last year’s contest, between Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis, drew 30.7 million.

In Los Angeles, the "Idol" finale overlapped for about 45 minutes with a closely watched game between the Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs on TNT. Yet both programs performed strongly in the local market, with "Idol" capturing 1.3 million area viewers vs. the Lakers’ 1.2 million.

The "Idol" finale was a welcome dash of good news for the broadcast TV industry, which has been brought low by the writers strike and ongoing viewer defections to cable.

Every network except Fox saw significant ratings declines this season, including CBS, which shed 16% of its average total viewers compared with last season. As a result, Fox snatched the crown for most-watched network away from the usual victor, CBS, with 11.1 million vs. 10.5 million (this data does not include the Wednesday results).

Among the ad-friendly demographic of viewers aged 18-49, Fox led the season while ABC and CBS, which both logged double-digit declines, tied for second.

Results for the May "sweep" period, which local stations use to help set ad rates and which also ended Wednesday, were even worse. Every network posted losses, even Fox, which slipped 7%. NBC shed nearly one-fifth of its audience compared with a year ago.

Against that backdrop, the "Idol" numbers assume even more importance, proving that broadcast TV can still deliver huge audiences with the right program.

-- Scott Collins

Comments () | Archives (4)

The ratings may be high in comparison to other shows, but that is still millions less than seasons 5 and 2. Not only that, in the top 10 Yahoo searches this morning, Carrie Underwood was #2 and David Cook not there. As for the 97 million votes, AI can't be that proud. Given todays technology and software for power voting, even hundreds of people can generate thousands of votes, and they would have to for 31 million people to add up to 97 million votes. Half of all people who watch don't vote, so what does that say?

I used to be an AI fan until I found out what it is all about, and it isn't even about entertainment anymore. It's about commercialism (more commercials than actual show) and selling units, and selling the products of other artists. Witness that a 4th place finisher was presented to be an actual winner like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. I will say that the show does give people a chance at a career, but to the PTB, that isn't good enough. And, isn't it strange that an Idol winner who is shunned by the show, was picked as the entertainment for a charity tribute to Nigel Lythgoe, who has badmouthed him in the media.? Too bad that they still have such a hold on all Idols.

You know what? It's entertainment, people, watch it, don't watch it, comment, hate it, love it. Yeah, corporations are making big money, ooh yeah there could be a conspiracy... Is your day to day life really going to be affected by who wins and do you really think anyone cares if you don't watch it anymore? Get over yourselves and get a life! If only y'all were as passionate and outspoken about the real primary elections going on right now. WHUUUUTTTTT........

I have to agree. I have read where one person voting for 4 hours used 4 cell phones (her family member's) a land line, a at&t phone to text. a software called gizmo and dialidol and generated a whopping 6500 votes for one person! This doesn't really help when the winner goes out in the real world and discovers that there CD only sold 250000 because they had less than that many voting for them. Yikes!! Its a reality show. Winner/loser doesn't matter. They are all on the same playing field. Weather they make something of themselves or not is now up to them.!

I'm a devout Christian and mother of two music-loving boys, and I must ask: What is wrong with America? America's vote for Kris Allen, or America's vote against Adam Lambert, seems to be a contemptuous hate vote against the various sectors of society that Adam Lambert appears to stand for. Amid the manipulations, people lost respect of the fact that American Idol is a singing talent competition that’s open to all, regardless of orientation or religion, and voters forgot that it is not a popularity contest for class of persons -- neither a political race to election nor a religious warfare arena. In Season 8, Kris demonstrated that he is a talented musician and progressively proved that he is an outstanding vocalist; but Adam Lambert consistently proved to be the amazingly innovative vocal artist and the best singer, gifted with a powerful voice. Adam Lambert deserved to win. Even Kris knows this within his Christian heart, so much so that when he was unexpectedly handed the undeserved title, he became perplexed and asserted in open public that "Adam deserves this. I’m sorry..." – instinctively repudiating the unbelievable subsuming vote results in righteous adherence to the glaring truth. You could actually count so many seconds before the visibly bewildered Kris finally acquiesced to receive the undeserved crown, but only after Adam graciously approached to place a brotherly arm around his room mate’s shoulder in a gesture of encouragement. Adam Lambert is the true winner. In addition, I should also ask: What is wrong with this TV show called “American Idol,” anyway?


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