David Cook Wasn't the Only Winner on Wednesday, as 'Idol' Ratings Spike

By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, May 23, 2008

Nearly 32 million viewers watched the two-hour coronation of David Cook on "American Idol" on Wednesday -- the show's third-largest finale crowd ever.

The singing derby's biggest finale audience remains the more than 36 million who watched in '06, when Taylor Hicks took the "American Idol" tiara. Ironically, Hicks is widely regarded as the show's least successful winning Idolette.

Next in line is '03, when more than 34 million tuned in to see whether Clay Aiken or Ruben Studdard would become Idol 2, following Kelly Clarkson.

This year's finale clocked about a million viewers more than last year's, when Jordin Sparks beat out Beatbox Boy Blake Lewis for the crown.

Wednesday night's show, which saw David Archuleta finish second, also copped about 19 million more viewers than the night's second-most-viewed program -- the season finale of "Criminal Minds," which had promised fans one of its regulars would get blown up.

More important to Fox, the "Idol" finale's rating among 18-to-49-year-olds -- the hot blond chicks of Madison Avenue -- is virtually on par with last year's, though that puts it at the bottom of the heap among "Idol" wrap-ups. On Wednesday, about 11.4 percent of the country's 18-to-49-year-olds checked out Cook's win.

Overall, it was the second-best Wednesday number for "Idol" this season, behind only the very first one, back in mid-January.

It's a nice way to end the season for Fox, which saw the franchise's numbers hit record lows over the course of its four-month run.

After Tuesday's performance show, a record 97.5 million votes were cast for the Two Davids.

During the following night's finale, Cook was named the winner by a margin of 12 million votes, but only after two hours' worth of plugs for:

· Fox series "So You Think You Can Dance."

· New flick "The Love Guru."

· Ford Escape Hybrid SUV.

· Disney World.

· Upcoming Crosby, Still & Nash tour.

· Donna Summer's new single.

· Bryan Adams's new CD.

· The Jonas Brothers' upcoming tour.

· Upcoming "Tropic Thunder" flick.

· Carrie Underwood's new tune.

· George Michael's new CD.

· And more.

The "Idol" closeout night marked the end of the 2007-08 TV season, in which, for the very first time, Fox had the most viewers of any network in the country.

Fox also won the official TV season for the fourth consecutive year among those 18-to-49-year-olds -- again, the HBCs o' Mad Ave. This season, Fox took that age bracket by the largest margin of victory (40 percent) since the start of people-meter technology in the 1987-98 TV season.

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