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'American Idol' propels Fox to top of Thursday night ratings

February 25, 2011 | 11:26 am


Apparently all is not totally lost without Simon Cowell.

"American Idol's" two-hour show, which revealed its top 24, was a hit for Fox on Thursday night.  

The 8 p.m. hour drew 21.3 million viewers, while the second hour garnered 21.8 million viewers, according to the Nielsen Co. That was up 19% compared with the comparable "Idol" airing last year, which was slightly depressed due to competition from NBC's Winter Olympics coverage.

It should be noted that neither hour of "Idol" reached the ratings for the previous Thursday's one-hour telecast, which brought in 22.2 million viewers. But the show has typically plateaued mid-season before rising again toward the finale. Overall, "Idol" is performing much better with new judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez than many skeptics predicted.

Overall, Fox was king of the night with an average of 21.6 million viewers, easily cruising past CBS (12.7 million). ABC was third with 7.6 million viewers while NBC managed 4.3 million. Rounding it all out was the CW with 2.5 million, down from last week.

"Idol" is airing on Thursdays for the first time this year, which is enabling Fox to dominate a key night for advertising.

-- Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: The top 24 contestants on Fox's "American Idol." Credit: Michael Becker / Fox