Half of all teenage girls watched American Idol Tuesday

Despite cautious predictions by producers and the network, American Idol 5 has been an unexpected success. As the New York Times puts it, “Nothing any other network puts on approaches the popularity of ‘American Idol.'” The show “has damaged all the other networks, though CBS the least.”

This past Tuesday, the show “averaged a 37 share among 18-to-49-year-old viewers. That was more than double the share of the three other networks combined from 8 to 10 p.m.” Even more astonishing, “[a]mong teenage girls, the show had an extraordinary 49 share — meaning that of every girl in the country watching television for those two hours, with about 100 channels to choose from in most homes, half were watching Fox.”

FOX’s Peter Liguori says, “I would be lying if I didn’t say this is in some way humbling. There is no way you can ever calculate that you will have this kind of phenomenon.” He attributed the show’s success in part to the fact that, while FOX airs more than 40 hours of the show during its five-month season, the series doesn’t try to do more than that. “Scarcity has started to mean something in television,” Liguori told the Times.

Producer Simon Fuller says that, in the early years, FOX did want more than one season a year. “I have been very resistant to extend to more in one season. [Now,] Peter Liguori and I are of very like minds about the program and the number of times we’re doing it. … There have been some issues, but they invariably have backed down.”

Why Hold the Superlatives? ‘American Idol’ Is Ascendant [New York Times]