Another American Idol Finale Shocker: Not the Lowest Rated!
Kevin Winter/American Idol 2009/Getty Images for FOX
It was a squeaker, but American Idol did it: It avoided posting its least-watched finale of the modern Idol era.
Instead, the show tied its least-watched finale of the modern Idol era. Which, in 2009, is still a feat.
An estimated 28.84 million, on average, tuned in last night’s Kris Allen coronation, per preliminary Nielsen data.
Final numbers weren’t expected to give Idol much of a boost since Nielsen has already factored in time zone differences and the show’s seven-minute overrun into the 10 p.m. hour.
If the estimate holds, last night’s Idol will be tied with 2004’s Fantasia finale for next-to-last place in the annals of Idol finales.
Some more finale factoids:
• Compared to last year’s David Cook party, last night’s Allen celebration was attended by about 3 million—or 9 percent—fewer people.
• Compared to TV’s other top shows, Idol held up slightly better than average. Consider: Last May’s top finales were posted by Idol, Dancing With the Stars, CSI, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, NCIS, House and CSI: Miami. This May, those shows finales’ were down, on average, 11 percent. Only one finale, in fact—DWTS’ results show—wasn’t down, and it wasn’t even up. (It matched last year’s number.)
• Among that finale bunch, last night’s Idol tied for fourth with Grey’s Anatomy, in terms of holding onto—or losing less of—last year’s audience. The DWTS results show, NCIS (down 2 percent), and DWTS’ decisive dance-off (down 3 percent) led the way. At the other end, House was down 23 percent.
• While Idol’s numbers conceivably could be crunched any old way, the Oscars would like to remind it still has scoreboard. The 36.3 million it commanded in February remains the season’s biggest prime-time audience for a single entertainment show.
• Idol, meanwhile, would like to remind its finale still has scoreboard over the Grammys as TV’s biggest music-industry platform. But the gap did shrink considerably. Last year Idol outdistanced the Grammys by 14.5 million viewers. This season it beat the awards show by “only” 9.8 million.
• Idol’s 2003 Ruben Studdard finale remains the franchise’s biggest, with 38 million viewers. The runners-up: 2006’s Taylor Hicks night (36.4 million), 2008’s David Cook upset (31.7 million), 2007’s Jordin Sparks win (30.7 million), 2005’s Carrie Underwood moment (30.3 million), 2004’s Fantasia and last night’s Kris Allen crownings, and at the end of the line, 2002’s Kelly Clarkson moment (22.8 million), which, unlike its descendants, aired (a) during the summer, and (b) before American Idol became American Idol.