Dueling Michael Jacksons were no match for Fox's Joe Millionaire last Monday: 40 million viewers tuned in to watch poor construction worker Evan Marriott reveal that he isn't really wealthy and see whether the woman he picked would stick with him.
The show was Fox's highest-rated entertainment program in both adults 18-49 and viewers, according to Nielsen's final national ratings, since the network launched in 1987.
In the hour-long finale at 9 p.m. ET, Marriott selected substitute high school teacher Zora Andrich to be his potential bride. In true reality-TV style, Marriott and Andrich didn't just win each other; they also took home $1 million for the two of them to split, a "surprise" gift.
The finale of Joe Millionaire
scored a 20.4 rating/40 share in adults 18-49, a 22.0/48 in adults 18-34 and a 21.8/29 in households. In its strongest demographic, women 18-34, the show hit an astonishing 24.8/50. Only three Super Bowls and the seventh game of the 2001 World Series have drawn more people to the Fox network. The show also was the highest-rated entertainment program on any network since Survivor 2
premiered on CBS after the Super Bowl on Jan. 28, 2001.
Compared with entertainment programs that don't have a Super Bowl lead-in to boost their numbers, Joe Millionaire
was the highest-rated show on any network since the finale of the first Survivor on Aug. 23, 2000. Joe Millionaire also had the largest number of viewers since last year's Academy Awards aired on ABC on March 24.
Comparatively, ratings were unimpressive over on ABC and NBC, both of which aired specials on Michael Jackson. NBC offered a two-hour Dateline,
but ABC swept in at the last moment to repeat its earlier Primetime Thursday
special on the King of Pop.
scored a 4.8/9 in adults 18-49 against Joe Millionaire, and ABC's repeat grabbed a 3.4/7 in the demo. At 10 p.m. ET, once Joe Millionaire
was over, the ratings for both two-hour Jackson shows went up, with ABC averaging a 3.6/8 in the demographic and NBC a 7.7/18.