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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 2

'American Idol' ratings rocking the television industry

By Wade Paulsen, 01/25/2003 

It's official: Simon-mania has swept the country.

According to the Associated Press, the debut of 'American Idol 2' on Tuesday drew the highest ratings that the Fox network has ever had for an e show other than a sporting event, with an audience of 26.5 million viewers. Variety reports that Wednesday's show wasn't far behind, drawing 25 million viewers for Fox's second-best ratings night ever.

The size of the audience for these two shows shocked the TV industry, as 'Idol" had largely been dismissed as a one-shot summer phenomenon. Instead, 'Idol' buried its main reality-show competition, ABC's 'The Bachelorette,' which finished a distant second on Wednesday. Since Fox also won the ratings battle on Monday with 'Joe Millionaire' (which drew "only" 19 million viewers), it has won bested the other networks on three consecutive nights behind its reality TV hits.

To put 'Idol' in perspective, its debut drew more viewers among the 18-49 set than the finales from 'Survivor: Africa,' 'Survivor: Marquesas,' and 'Survivor: Thailand' (although not among the overall audience). Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman said, "We certainly didn't expect to come close to the ['American Idol 1'} finale's numbers, and to exceed them by 16 percent is a dream come true."

Whether the dream continues may depend upon a continuing stream of zingers from the focal point of 'Idol' -- :British record executive and judge Simon Cowell, whose mix of nastiness and arrogance has become the show's main theme. "If you lived 2,000 years ago and sang like that, I think they would have stoned you" and "Go back to your vocal coach and demand a refund" were among his cracks to the desperate wannabes this time.

Geez, they used to just "gong" you when you stunk...

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