The "American Idol" seventh season finale last night (May 21) managed to essentially match last year's performance, with the coronation of David Cook watched by an estimated 31.7 million viewers.

The "American Idol" seventh season finale last night (May 21) managed to essentially match last year's performance, with the coronation of David Cook watched by an estimated 31.7 million viewers. Last year, slightly fewer viewers -- 30.8 million -- tuned in to watch Jordin Sparks win Fox's singing competition.

Among adults 18-49, the "Idol" finale rating was a bit lower than the previous season. "Idol" registered an 11.4 preliminary rating according to Fox's time-zone-adjusted fast nationals, which is down 1%.

Nonetheless, the demo number marks the lowest-rated "Idol" finale since the show's debut season in 2002 and is down sharply -- 20% -- from the show's 2006 finale.

Because of the nature of measuring live viewing audiences, the numbers could change this afternoon, but the time zone-adjusted nationals tend to be fairly steady.

Even if the demo rating holds as the lowest in years, the finale marks a relief for Fox. The show has averaged a 10% decline this season, so the finale numbers represent some relative improvement after weeks of alarming drops.

Nothing aired on the other broadcast networks came close to "Idol," with competitors opting for repeats in some time periods. CBS' "Criminal Minds" (13 million, 3.3/8) was the second highest-rated show of the night.