`Idol' winners: Barrino, Fox

May 28, 2004|By David Zurawik

An audience of 31.4 million viewers tuned in Wednesday night to see Fantasia Barrino selected over Diana DeGarmo as Fox TV's new American Idol. While that was the second largest audience for any episode of a prime-time series this year, it was down from the 33.7 million viewers for last year's finale of Idol.

Still, it was a big night for Fox: 30-second commercial slots sold for $1 million each. And enough young adults watched to push Fox ahead of CBS and into second place this season among viewers 18 to 49 years old, TV's most coveted demographic. (NBC is No. 1.) There were 65 million votes cast by telephone and text messaging; Barrino beat DeGarmo by 1.3 million, Fox says. Last year, due in part to problems with calls getting through, only 24 million votes were cast.

The overall audience of 31.4 million viewers falls far short of the 52.5 million who saw the last episode of NBC's Friends May 6. But it is larger than the 27.5 million who saw the season finale of NBC's The Apprentice on April 27, or the 25.2 million on hand for the last episode of Frasier on NBC May 13.

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