''Idol'' finale powers Fox triumph in weekly ratings race. For the season, Fox claims supremacy among young viewers, though CBS claims the most viewers altogether

By Gary Susman
June 01, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT
American Idol: Ray Mickshaw
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For all intents and purposes, the 2004-2005 TV season ended the moment Carrie Underwood won American Idol last Wednesday. The moment marked a victory for Fox in the weekly Nielsen race — the show drew 30.3 million to finish as the week’s most-watched program, and it helped Fox beat the other networks with an average viewership of 12.5 million — and a victory for Fox for the year, as the network with the greatest appeal to the coveted 18-to-49 demographic, stealing the crown from NBC.

CBS also claimed victory for the year, averaging the most viewers overall (12.9 million). Last week, however, CBS finished a distant second in overall viewers to Fox, with 9.4 million. It did boast the most-watched scripted show (CSI: Miami, No. 3, 21.2 million). NBC finished fourth in total audience and in viewers 18 to 49 for the season, but it finished third this week, with an average of 7.8 million viewers, thanks to the Law & Order franchise and to Medium, the network’s only real new hit this year. ABC finished fourth for the week (7.2 million) but second for the season (10.1 million), thanks to hits like Lost, whose mysterious two-hour finale finished fourth for the week with 20.7 million head-scratching viewers opposite the Idol conclusion on Fox.

UPN and the WB finished neck-and-neck for the season, 3.36 million to 3.35 million, though that figure represents a drop in viewers since last year for the WB. Last week, the Frog network also finished last, with 2.5 million to UPN’s 2.8 million.

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.
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