Originally created 05/29/03

'American Idol' gives Fox an easy ratings win

NEW YORK -- Fox rode "American Idol" Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken into the winner's circle during the final few days of the television season.

The final hour of last Wednesday's "American Idol" finale was watched by 38.1 million viewers, second only to the finale of "Joe Millionaire," which drew 40 million, for the season's most popular entertainment program.

A day earlier, more than 25 million people watched Studdard and Aiken in their final competition. Yet another Fox special, on Monday, also finished in Nielsen Media Research's top 10 shows.

It gave Fox a clear victory in Nielsen's competition for a week that straddled the end of the season and the beginning of summer reruns. Fox also managed to slip by ABC to become the third-place network for the entire season.

Who was the biggest TV movie villain last week? According to Nielsen, it was Martha Stewart, whose NBC movie was seen by 14 million viewers, compared with the 12.2 million who watched the second part of CBS' miniseries on Hitler.

For the week, Fox averaged 13.2 million viewers (7.8 rating, 14 share), CBS had 10.8 million (7.2, 12), NBC had 10.1 million (6.9, 12), ABC had 7.6 million (5.0, 9), the WB had 3.8 million (2.4, 4), UPN had 3.5 million (2.3, 4) and Pax TV had 1 million (0.7, 1).

NBC's "Nightly News" and ABC's "World News Tonight" finished in a virtual dead heat in the evening news ratings race. NBC averaged 8.98 million viewers (6.6 rating, 14 share), ABC had 8.95 million (6.5, 14) and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.3 million (5.3, 11).

A ratings point represents 1,067,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 106.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

Prime-time viewership numbers compiled by Nielsen Media Research for May 19-25. Listings include the week's ranking, with viewership for the week and season-to-date rankings in parentheses. An "X" in parentheses denotes a one-time-only presentation.

1. (6) "American Idol" (Wednesday, 9 p.m.), Fox, 38.1 million viewers.

2. (X) "American Idol" (Wednesday, 8 p.m.), Fox, 30.4 million viewers.

3. (5) "American Idol" (Tuesday), Fox, 25.7 million viewers.

4. (8) "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS, 22.7 million viewers.

5. (12) "CSI: Miami," CBS, 19.3 million viewers.

6. (9) "Law & Order," NBC, 19 million viewers.

7. (1) "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 17.3 million viewers.

8. (X) "American Idol: Final Two" (Monday), Fox, 16.9 million viewers.

9. (X) "Law & Order" (special), NBC, 16 million viewers.

10. (16) "Without a Trace," CBS, 15 million viewers.

11. (45) "24," Fox, 14.2 million viewers.

12. (X) "NBC Movie of the Week: Martha Inc.: Story of Martha Stewart," NBC, 14 million viewers.

13. (25) "JAG," CBS, 13.3 million viewers.

14. (16) "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," NBC, 12.8 million viewers.

15. (34) "NYPD Blue," ABC, 12.5 million viewers.

16. (2) "Friends," NBC, 12.2 million viewers.

17. (X) "CBS Tuesday Movie: Hitler, the Rise of Evil, Part 2," CBS, 12.2 million viewers.

18. (X) "38th Annual American Country Music Awards," CBS, 12.1 million viewers.

19. (27) "Yes, Dear," CBS, 12 million viewers.

20. (X) "CSI: Miami" (special), CBS, 12 million viewers.

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