ABC's Dancing With The Stars series ended its season with a bang on Wednesday night, drawing the most viewers and highest Adults 18-49 demographic numbers of any summer television series since Fox's September 2002 finale of American Idol's first season.

According to the final Nielsen national ratings, Dancing With The Stars' July 6 finale averaged 22.4 million viewers, a 14.2/23 rating/share in households, and a 6.7/19 rating/share in the Adults 18-49 demographic during its 9-10PM ET/PT broadcast -- figures that represented more than the combined totals of what the five other broadcast networks drew in the hour.

While ABC's Dancing With The Stars finale fell just short of the 22.8 million viewers that Fox's original Idol finale averaged, its Adults 18-49 performance wasn't nearly as impressive as the 10.7/30 rating/share drawn by the Fox show's finale. However, the six-episode Dancing With The Stars did best Fox's much-longer inaugural American Idol season in one area -- average viewership. Dancing With The Stars averaged 16.8 million viewers during its six-week run. Idol's original edition averaged 12.5 million Tuesday performance show viewers and 13.5 Wednesday results show viewers during its three-month run in Summer 2002.

Although Dancing's finale numbers were well short of those drawn by Fox's recently concluded fourth American Idol edition, they did compare well with the numbers drawn by the May finales of television's other popular reality series. For example, despite airing in the lesser-watched summer season, Dancing With The Stars' finale drew more viewers than May's Survivor: Palau finale (20.8 million viewers, 7.8/18 in Adults 18-49) -- however unlike Dancing, it should be noted that not only was Survivor: Palau's finale a two-hour broadcast, but the long-running CBS series also had the unenviable task of airing its special Sunday night finale broadcast up against an original May sweeps episode of ABC's smash-hit Desperate Housewives drama. Dancing With The Stars also easily beat the May finale numbers drawn by other popular spring reality series such as The Apprentice and The Amazing Race.

In addition to setting series highs in viewers and Adults 18-49, the Dancing With The Stars finale also set highs across all other relevant demographic categories, including Adults 25-54, Adults 18-34, Teens 12-17, and Kids 2-11. As the most dominant show of the summer, Dancing With The Stars ranked as the top show of the night among viewers and young adults for all six weeks of its run.

The finale's performance represented ABC's biggest summer audience since September 1997 and its best Adults 18-49 numbers since September 1995.

While ABC has yet to announce plans for a Dancing With The Stars sequel, according to reports, the formal announcement of plans for a second edition is expected shortly.