The 31.66 million people who watched the "American Idol" finale surely will be the largest audience gathered before a single TV show for several months.

During the TV season's final week, viewers flocked to the family-friendly finales of Fox's "Idol" and ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," according to Nielsen Media Research. (And, for the whole season, Fox captured the distinction as the nation's most popular TV network for the first time since it began operation in 1987.) No other show topped 20 million viewers.

Summer series were quick to appear on the schedule, and no immediate excitement was obvious.

Among dancing, dating and joking, give an edge to the hoofers. Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" premiered to 8.7 million viewers, ABC's "The Bachelorette" had 8.1 million and NBC's "Last Comic Standing" had 5.8 million people watching.

For the week, Fox averaged 12.5 million viewers (7.3 rating, 13 share), CBS had 8.5 million and ABC 8.4 million (both 5.6, 10), NBC 5.3 million (3.5, 6), the CW 2.2 million (1.4, 2), My Network TV 920,000 (0.6, 1) and ION Television 310,000 (0.2, 0).

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with 3.4 million viewers (1.7 rating, 3 share), Telemundo had 950,000 (0.6, 1), TeleFutura 660,000 (0.4, 1) and Azteca 200,000 (0.1, 0).

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.1 million viewers, while ABC's "World News Now" had 7.8 million (both 5.5, 12). By one-hundredth of a ratings point, the "CBS Evening News" set another record low with 5.33 million viewers (3.8, 8).

A ratings point represents 1,128,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 112.8 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of May 19-25, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 31.66 million; "American Idol" (Tuesday), Fox, 27.06 million; "Dancing With the Stars" (Tuesday), ABC, 20.12 million; "Dancing With the Stars" (Monday), ABC, 19.22 million; "Grey's Anatomy," ABC, 18.09 million; `NCIS," CBS, 16.52 million; "House," Fox, 16.36 million; "CSI: Miami," CBS, 16.27 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 14.7 million; "Criminal Minds," CBS, 13.15 million.


ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is a division of CBS Corp. Fox is a unit of News Corp. NBC is owned by General Electric Co. Telemundo is owned by General Electric. TeleFutura is a division of Univision. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.


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