'Idol' Winner Trumps 'Lost' Castaways

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The showdown that had Watercooler glued to the TV last night was not the musical battle between "American Idol" finalists Taylor "Soul Patrol" Hicks and Katherine McPhee. Instead, we were riveted by the ratings face-off between Fox, crowning its "Idol" winner, and ABC, which promised "Lost" viewers some season-ending answers.
Viewers tuned in to see top 'Idol' Taylor Hicks get crowned, leaving Matthew Fox and his fellow 'Lost' castaways feeling a bit more lonely on that mysterious island.
Viewers tuned in to see top 'Idol' Taylor Hicks get crowned, leaving Matthew Fox and his fellow 'Lost' castaways feeling a bit more lonely on that mysterious island. Credit: AP/ABC

ABC's "Lost" has been the David to "Idol's" Goliath all season. Producers of the Emmy-winning "Lost" had promised that the finale would reveal some secrets about what is really happening to the show's island castaways. And Watercooler expected that fans, after being tantalized for months by cryptic clues, computers, maps and flashbacks, would watch in droves for some answers. However, while it was a solid showing -- according to Nielsen Fast Affiliate Ratings, the "Lost" finale averaged 17.6 million viewers and a 7.5 rating/17 share in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic -- it was no match for the "Idol" showdown, which featured guest appearances by Wolfgang Puck, Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick and, the super-duper surprise, Prince.

The two-hour finale of "Idol" last night drew more than 35 million viewers. The show won a 35 share in the 18-to-49 demographic and a 13.8 rating. In the final half hour, when grey-haired Taylor was crowned the winner, the audience climbed to a 38 share and a 17 rating.

TV as a whole benefited from the strong slate of programming that marked the evening's competition. Households-using-TV levels were up 1% overall, and persons-using-TV levels increased 5% in the 18-to-49 demographic, a tremendous jump for metrics that rarely fluctuate.

The "Idol" victory ends a period during which the Fox giant regularly doled out damage to its ABC competitor. "Lost" viewership has been down in the second half of the season, a decline that's partly the result of competition from "Idol." When the "Lost" finale and the "Idol" finale overlapped in the 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. hour, "Idol" drew a 15.9 rating/36 share while "Lost" drew a 6.9 rating/16 share. The ratings for the final episode of "Lost" were lower than the program's season average of 7.9 rating/19 share.
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