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Fox's 'American Idol 4' dominates the ratings in its first week return


By Reality TV World staff, 01/25/2005 

Showing absolutely no signs of slowing down in its fourth season, Fox's American Idol dominated the television ratings during last week's two premiere week broadcasts.

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Tuesday's two-hour debut started the new Idol season with a bang, delivering the highest rated entertainment broadcast of the 2004-2005 television season. And while an original episode of ABC's hit Lost series did manage to somewhat slow down Idol's one-hour Wednesday episode, the episode still ranked right behind Tuesday's debut as the week's second most watched non-sports program.

Between both broadcasts, nearly 66 million Americans watched at least some portion of last week's Idol broadcasts.

While CBS's Sunday night NFL American Football Conference title game broadcast managed to sneak in and bump American Idol out of its perch at the top of the weekly Nielsen ratings for the week ending January 23, Tuesday's Idol debut still managed to draw 33.6 million viewers and a 14.0/33 rating/share in the Adults 18-49 demographic -- a performance that ranks it as television's highest rated entertainment telecast since May 2004's Friends series finale.

Many television industry insiders - including Fox's own network president Gail Berman -- had doubted whether the now "maturing" show could continue its monster ratings numbers, however Tuesday's American Idol 4 performance represented the second highest numbers that the program has ever drawn in those measures, trailing only American Idol 2's Ruben Studdard versus Clay Aiken season finale.

"We can expect to see some [ratings] declines," Berman had told reporters gathered at the Television Critics Association winter press tour the day before Idol premiered. "I think that's only natural for a fourth-year show." "What surprised me last year, its third year, was that its audience grew. We certainly don't expect to see that this year," she added.

Defying Fox's expectations, compared to last year's then-record setting premiere, American Idol 4 opened up another 9% in Adults 18-49 (14.0/33 vs. 12.9/30 on Monday, January 19, 2004), 16% in total viewers (33.6 million vs. 29.0 million), 4% in Adults 18-34 (14.3/37 vs. 13.7/36), and 7% in Teens (14.7/40 vs. 13.6/36)..

In addition to representing Idol's second largest numbers ever, Tuesday's premiere also ranked as FOX's third most watched night of entertainment programming EVER (behind its Joe Millionaire finale on February 17, 2003 and the second season's May 21, 2003 finale.)

Going head-to-head with ABC's smash hit Lost series did manage to put a dent in American Idol's second night ratings, however like Tuesday's broadcast, Wednesday's Idol once again dominated its time period. While an original episode of Lost still managed to draw 19.7 million viewers -- a performance that ranked it 7th for the week -- the ABC series still trailed well behind Idol's numbers. Although down significantly from Tuesday's phenomenal numbers, Wednesday's Idol episode still drew 26.7 million viewers and a 11.2/27 in Adults 18-49 -- numbers that were 36% above Lost in viewers and 51% above it in Adults 18-49.

Together, American Idol 4's two episodes ranked as the second and third most watched programs of the ratings week, trailing only CBS's Sunday night NFL American Football Conference title game broadcast.


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