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'American Idol' Picks Up Steam

September 05, 2002|Brian Lowry

The steadily building drumbeat for "American Idol" continues, with record ratings for the show last week and higher tune-in for the penultimate episode on Tuesday, based on viewing estimates issued Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research.

Overall, Fox's prime-time viewing this summer is up 7% compared with last year, an improvement almost entirely attributable to the twice-a-week talent contest. In fact, Fox's next most-watched program last week attracted half the audience "Idol" did, and the network still finished fourth in overall viewing.

CBS ranked first by that measure, despite a dismal performance with an original movie, "The Biographer," which told Princess Diana's story from the perspective of biographer Andrew Morton.

ABC's experiment with running the USA cable series "Monk," meanwhile, has paid dividends, as the show has held its own despite competing with "American Idol" on Tuesdays, adding viewers until this week's telecast. Preseason "Monday Night Football" coverage has also ticked upward by 6% versus last summer--a trend that may be as attributable to more competitive games and the arrival of commentator John Madden.

The major networks took a collective hit Thursday from MTV's "Video Music Awards," which averaged nearly 12 million viewers.

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National Nielsen Viewership

(text of infographic not included)

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