'American Idol' Cleans Up For Fox

The finale of "American Idol" gave Fox some Ruben Studdard-sized ratings on the last night of the 2002-03 season.

The finale of "American Idol" gave Fox some Ruben Studdard-sized ratings on the last night of the 2002-03 season.

Last Wednesday's "Idol" -- crowning the generously proportioned Studdard winner of the second pop singing contest over runner-up Clay Aiken -- averaged 38.1 million viewers, with a celestial 16.8 rating/37 share in the key 18-49 demographic, according to figures from Nielsen Media Research. The show's sophomore-season closer was, after February's "Joe Millionaire" finale on Fox, the second-highest-rated entertainment program on any network during the season.

Those numbers, along with three additional hours of "Idol"-related programming leading up to the finale, handed the typically young-skewing Fox a weekly victory in total viewers (13.2 million) for only the fifth time in its history, excluding weeks with such special sports events as the Super Bowl or World Series. Following were CBS (10.8 million), NBC (10.1 million), and ABC (7.6 million).