‘Idol’ worshipped by millions

Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

The two-hour conclusion of “American Idol” made Fox an easy winner on Wednesday, the final night of the 2002-03 television season, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen.

From 8 to 10, “Idol” averaged a 14.8/35 in adults 18-49 and 33.7 million viewers overall – the best-ever averages for a Wednesday on the network and the second best scores for any night of entertainment programming in Fox history (behind February’s “Joe Millionaire”).

Fox broke out the final night of the talent show into two hours, so the higher-rated 9 o’clock hour goes down in the books as its official finale (16.7/27 in adults 18-49, 37.7 million viewers overall). In the broadcast’s final half-hour, roughly 40 million people were watching.

NBC finished second behind two original episodes of “Law & Order.” The first gave the net its best showing from 9 to 10 (5.0/11 in adults 18-49, 15.9 million viewers), and the 10 o’clock episode, the skein’s 300th, won with a 6.7/16 in adults 18-49 and 18.9 million viewers overall).

ABC improved upon its year-ago score by roughly 15%, led by “Extreme Makeover” (4.7/12 in adults 18-49, 10.6 million viewers overall). The hourlong season finale of “My Wife and Kids” (3.9/10 in adults 18-49, 9.7 million viewers overall) ran second from 8 to 9 in key demos.

CBS finished fourth but above its Wednesday season averages with the “Academy of Country Music Awards” (3.5/8 in adults 18-49, 12 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages: Fox, 14.8/35; NBC, 4.8/12; ABC, 4.2/10; CBS, 3.5/8.

In total viewers: Fox, 33.7 million; NBC, 14.7 million; CBS, 12.0 million; ABC, 9.8 million.

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