American Idol, which surprised the industry with last summer’s strong ratings, continued its winning ways Tuesday with a big night for Fox. Fast-affiliate overnight ratings released by Fox show the network won a second night in a row, following Monday night’s Joe Millionaire episode. It was Fox’s highest-rated night ever, excluding sporting events. About 26.5 million viewers tuned in to the hour-and-a-half of American Idol, with an estimated 17/24 total rating. The show delivered an average 12.4/30 in adults 18-49 and 14.1/37 in adults 18-34. According to figures released by Fox, more viewers tuned in as the show went on. There were 30 million viewers at 9 p.m., compared to 23 million at 8 p.m. Fox said it was the highest rated Tuesday night in network history among adults 18-49, total viewers, households, adults 18-34, adults 25-54 and all key male and female measures. It was also Fox’s highest rated series telecast in total viewers since Nov. 2, 1997’s episode of the X-Files and in adults 18-49 and 18-34 since the Nov. 23, 1997, episode of the X-Files. Fast-affiliate estimates reportedly showed Fox in first place with a 16.7 rating and 23 share, compared to second-place CBS’ 10.4 rating/15 share and ABC’s 6.4 rating and 9 share and NBC’s 5.9 rating and 9 share.
In a news release prior to American Idol’s series premiere, Nielsen Media Research measured the program’s impact on the entertainment industry. Not only did it score big in the ratings, with more than 23 viewers tuning in for the finale last Sept. 4 but viewership grew 133% from its debut. The average cost per 30-second spot on the show was $207,331. Ford was the top advertisers, with 48 ads totaling $10 million. Coca-Cola was second with 48 ads totaling $9 million. Nielsen also measured the show’s impact on Internet traffic, album sales, music sales, book and video sales.