The finale of American Idol drew almost 35 million viewers for its last half-hour-plus (it ran long) and a 13.3 rating /32 share in the coveted 18-49 demo, powering Fox to a dominant win on the night with an 11.1/30 in the demo.
Fox topped all the other networks combined in rating and share for all four half-hours of the show as it built steadily from an 8.5 in its first half hour.
The network said it expected the final ratings for the show to be significantly higher since the Nielsen overnight numbers did not include a rating for the nine minutes past 10 p.m. the show ran, which would mean viewership to the big reveal of the winner Fox was right, the final 18-49 rating/share was an 11.5/31 and total viewership was 30.7 million. That was down from the 14.2/36 and 36.4 million for last year's finale.
Fox also claimed prime time season bragging rights, saying it had won in 18-49's by three-tenths of a rating point, the largest margin of victory in the past five seasons.
ABC bravely scheduled the first hour of the finale of Lost against the last hour of Idol, and scored a 5.8/15 for the show to easily take second place at a 4.5/12 for the night.
The other networks essentially conceded the night, airing repeats except for an original dateline at 10 p.m. on NBC, though that was beaten by all but a handful of the repeats.
CBS was third on the night with a 2.2/6. Its top show was a repeat of CSI: NY at 10 with a 2.7/7. NBC was in its familiar fourth spot with a 1.8/5 for the soon to be Stone Phillips-less Dateline and a repeat of an SNL clip show.
The CW averaged a .6/2 with repeats of One Tree Hill.