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Has 'American Idol' become more relevant than the Oscars?

May 22, 2008 |  6:04 am

While describing the triumph of David Cook over David Archuleta as "the most dramatic upset in the history" of America's top-rated show, L.A. Times writer Richard Rushfield notes that "American Idol," "remains the only show able to consistently deliver vast numbers of viewers, eclipsing even the Oscars . . . .


"The show seems in the finale to have rebounded from its ratings decline. It premiered to an audience of 33.5 million total viewers, according to figures from Nielsen Media Research, putting it ahead of the Oscars telecast to become the season's No. 2-rated program, trailing only the Super Bowl."

By contrast, the recent Oscars had 32 million viewers — its lowest tally ever. Unlike "American Idol," TV ratings of the Academy Awards telecast continue to tumble year to year. Are TV viewers telling us something?

Before we get too carried away with Oscars-bashing — always a lusty temptation — let's note that viewership of the season finale of "American Idol" did not match the Oscars audience: last night 27 million tuned in. But that was a jump up from 25.3 million viewers last year. In other words, there is, in general, an "Idol" uptick going on in contrast to an Oscars downtick.

Both programs are the equivalent to a Super Bowl of showbiz: one for pros decided by pros, the other for "amateurs" decided by everyday voters. If we put them both on a TV stage and had them slug it out like David Cook vs. David Archuleta, which one would be left standing, do you think, once America piped in?

Check out Rushfield's up-close, behind-the-curtains peek at "Idol's" last week CLICK HERE.