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Fox's 'American Idol 5' premieres to record debut ratings


By Reality TV World staff, 01/18/2006 

Competing broadcasters and other Idol-haters beware -- Fox's American Idol juggernaut is back... and if the ratings results from last night's fifth season premiere are any indication, it looks like the show might be (almost inconceivably) even bigger than ever.

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Last night's two-hour fifth season debut of Fox's American Idol delivered the show's best premiere ratings ever, completely defying the ratings erosion that most mature television programs experience and re-cementing the reality show's status as an undeniable (and perhaps unprecedented) television phenomena.

American Idol's fifth season premiere averaged 35.5 million viewers, a 15.3/34 rating/share among the Adults 18-49 demographic, and a 14.7/36 rating/share among Adults 18-34, according to Nielsen's preliminary Fast National ratings. The two-hour broadcast swamped the total primetime programming of the five other network broadcasters, outdelivering NBC, CBS, ABC, The WB, and UPN's combined ratings by 26% among Adults 18-49 (15.3 vs. 12.1), 43% among Adults 18-34 (14.7 vs. 10.3), 108% among Teens (13.7 vs. 6.6) and NBC, CBS, and ABC's combined viewership by 15% (35.5 million vs. 31.0 million.)

In addition to making the new season premiere the highest rated premiere of any American Idol edition, American Idol 5's premiere also delivered the second-highest total viewers, Adults 18-49, and Adults 18-49 numbers of any American Idol broadcast that Fox has ever aired, trailing behind only the final hour of Fox's May 21, 2003 broadcast of American Idol 2's two-hour (and technically two-part) finale.

Given the new season's huge debut, American Idol 5's premiere also set an all-time Fox record, with the night ranking as the network's highest rated entertainment programming night ever among total viewers and second highest rated night of all-time in Adults 18-49 (behind only the February 17, 2003 finale of Joe Millionaire.)

Compared to last year's previous record-setting premiere, American Idol 5's premiere was up 6% in total viewers (35.5 million vs. 33.6 million), 9% among Adults 18-49 (15.3/34 vs. 14.0/33), and 3% among Adults 18-34 (14.7/36 vs. 14.3/37.) According to Nielsen's Fast Total Audience figures, over 55.3 million viewers watched all or part of American Idol's fifth season premiere (a number Fox will no doubt immediately begin touting in its on-air promos.)

The huge debut numbers also place American Idol 5's premiere as the highest rated primetime program of the 2005-2006 television season -- including entertainment and sports programming -- among Adults 18-49, Adults 18-34 and Teens, and as primetime television's highest rated entertainment programming broadcast among Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34 since the series finale of NBC's Friends aired on May 6, 2004.


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