It took "American Idol" seven seasons to get the rights to use the Lennon-McCartney catalog, but access to the Beatles' songs has paid off in big ratings for the show's March 11 installment.

It took "American Idol" seven seasons to get the rights to use the Lennon-McCartney catalog, but access to the Beatles' songs has paid off in big ratings for the show's March 11 installment.

According to Nielsen Media Research's fast overnight numbers - which may be tweaked as the data is refined over the course of the day - 27 million people on average watched "American Idol" during the first hour of last night's two hour show. But, perhaps as people realized that it was Lennon-McCartney night, significantly more people turned into the second
hour: more than 31 million viewers saw the 9-10 p.m. airing.

The resulting Internet buzz today seems focused on The Beatles; the band tops Billboard's "Buzz 100" for blog mentions. At iTunes, the "Across the Universe" deluxe edition of the movie's soundtrack has popped into the top ten albums. The performance singles from Lennon-McCartney night are expected to go on sale tomorrow.

The top searches on Google also have Beatlemania today. They include searches for the lyrics to "Across the Universe," "In My Life," "If I Fell," as well and general searches for "Eleanor Rigby," and "American Idol March 11."

On the performance side of things, contestants David Cook and David Archuleta are among the top Google-searched artists - Cook's rock rendition of "Eleanor Rigby" and Archuleta's botching of "We Can Work It Out" both stood out.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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