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May 20, 2009

'Idol' wins Tuesday with lowest-ever finale; 'Glee' preview OK

Idol UPDATED: The preview of Fox's new musical dramedy "Glee" posted a decent stand-alone number, though it lost a large portion of its lead-in from the "American Idol" finale.

The advanced look at Fox's new series, which officially premieres next fall, lost more than half the "Idol" audience. "Glee" was seen by 9.6 million viewers and drew a 3.9 rating among adults 18-49. By comparison, the "Idol" performance finale drew 23.8 million with an 8.6 rating.

For "Idol," it was the competition's lowest-rated finale ever, including its first season, which aired in the summer.

Comparing "Glee" to past Fox shows is tricky, but last year "Hell's Kitchen" performed a 5.2 rating out of the "Idol" finale.

Fox has positioned the "Glee" airing as a marketing initiative rather than a ratings grab and had staffers monitoring iTunes, blogs and Twitter to gauge reaction to the show. "It was the No. 1 topic all night on 'Twitter,' " read a Fox email.

Spokesperson Joe Earley said the network was pleased with the numbers and public response.

"The measurement for success last night was never about the demo rating," Earley said. "We're definitely happy with the way 'Glee' performed, we knew how tough the competition was going to be, last night was a marketing experiment and we got almost 10 million people to see it, which is fantastic. We could work all summer long marketing the show and not get those many people, and certainly not in the fall."

Given the preview's heavy promotion and selection as the network's only new drama in the fall, however, Fox was doubtless hoping the preview would generate a more optimistic number.

"Glee" was dominated by the finale of "Dancing With the Stars" (20.1 million, 5.2), which ruled the rest of the evening. "Dancing" came into the neighborhood of the "Idol" tally among total viewers and matched its ratings from last year.

CBS had the solid season finales of "NCSI (16.1 million, 3.4), "The Mentalist" (16.8 million, 3.7) and the series finale of "Without a Trace" (11.3 million, 2.5). NBC had repeats and "Law & Order: SVU" (6.7 million, 2.4). The CW aired a low-rated episode of "Reaper" (1.8 million, 0.7) and the "90210" finale (2.1 million, 1.0).


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