Is the bloom finally off the Bachelor franchise rose, or did much of America just agree that Meredith made a rather boring bachelorette?

According to final Nielsen ratings, ABC's February 26 two-hour finale of its Meredith Phillips-led second edition of The Bachelorette drew the lowest ratings of any Bachelor or Bachelorette edition to date, 1.6 million viewers than the franchise's previously lowest-rated Andrew Firestone Bachelor finale.

The second season finale of The Bachelorette, which ended with Meredith choosing Ian McKee, drew an average audience of 13.5 million viewers during its two-hour telecast. Despite the franchise-low finale ratings performance, the program dominated the 9-11 PM time period in the key Adult 18-49 demographic and ranked first in each half-hour of its two-hour broadcast among the Adults 18-34 and Adults 18-49 demographics.

The Bachelorette built strongly during each half-hour of its broadcast, gaining 2.9 million viewers (12.2 million to 15.1 million) and 25% in Adults 18-49 (5.5/13 to 6.9/18) from its first half-hour to its final half-hour. Additionally, from 10-11 PM The Bachelorette held a commanding lead over an original Law & Order among young adults, besting the veteran NBC drama by 54% in Adults 18-34 (6.0/17 vs. 3.9/11) and by 23% in Adults 18-49 (6.5/17 vs. 5.3/14).

Compared to both the original The Bachelorette series and November's finale of the most recent The Bachelor, Bachelorette 2's ratings performance was disappointing for the struggling network. Airing on February 19, last year's highly successful Bachelorette finale drew an average of 20.4 million viewers and a 9.2/20 Adults 18-49 rating/share, while the fourth edition finale of ABC's Bob Guiney-led Bachelor series drew an average of 18.5 million viewers and a 8.7/21 among Adults 18-49 rating/share on November 19, 2003.

Bachelorette 2 did come close to beating out the previously lowest rated Bachelor finale -- Spring 2003's Andrew Firestone edition, which only drew a disappointing 15.1 million & 7.2/17 Adults 18-49 rating. Perhaps, similar to Fall 2003's fourth Bachelor series, the next (expected but not confirmed) Bachelorette edition will similarly rebound.