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'Idol' Finale Is Lowest Rated in Show's Nine Season History

Simon Cowell’s May 27 farewell to American Idol, a show he has been integral on for nine seasons, sank to its lowest rated finale yet. The two-hour show, which crowned Lee DeWyze, and featured a raft of stars (including erstwhile judge Paula Abdul), was watched by 24.2 million viewers, garnering an 8.2 rating in the 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings.

The show dominated every half hour from 8-10 p.m., but it did not reverse a season-long slide for the top-rated show on television. This year’s finale was down 18% year-to-year.

Idol’s ratings erosion began in 2007, when the finale garnered 30.7 million viewers. Last year’s finale came in at 28.8 million while 2008’s was as 31.7 million.