Big Nielsen Rating for Big 'Idol' Ruben

updated 05/29/2003 at 12:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/29/2003 2:29PM

"American Idol" stars Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken shoved aside Ray Romano (despite everybody loving him) and even eternal "CSI" ratings champs William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger to rule last week's Nielsen numbers.

The final hour of last Wednesday's "AI" finale -- during which rotund Ruben beat beanpole Aiken -- was watched by 38.1 million viewers, a number topped only by the finale of "Joe Millionaire" (40 million) for the title of the season's most popular entertainment program.

For the week, FOX averaged 13.2 million viewers; CBS, 10.8 million; NBC, 10.1 million; ABC, 7.6 million; the WB, 3.8 million and UPN, 3.5 million.

In another interesting footnote to the final week of the May sweeps (which officially ended Wednesday, as evidenced by Thursday's return of reruns), the NBC movie, "Martha Inc.: The Story of Martha Stewart," starring Cybill Shepherd, was watched by 14 million viewers, compared to the 12.2 million who tuned into the second part of CBS's miniseries on Hitler. (There's a Mel Brooks joke in there somewhere.)

For the week of May 19-25, the Top 10 shows were as follows:

1. "American Idol," Wednesday, FOX, 38.1 million viewers
2. "American Idol," Wednesday special, FOX, 30.4 million
3. "American Idol," Tuesday, FOX, 25.7 million
4. "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS, 22.7 million
5. "CSI: Miami," CBS, 19.3 million
6. "Law & Order," NBC, 19 million
7. "CSI," CBS, 17.3 million
8. "American Idol: Final Two," FOX, 16.9 million
9. "Law & Order," NBC, 16 million
10. "Without a Trace," CBS, 15 million

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