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"American Idol" Finale Suffers Ratings Low

Michael Becker/FOX(LOS ANGELES) -- America doesn't seem to care who wins American Idol as much as it used to.

The 11th-season finale of the Fox singing competition, in which Phillip Phillips was crowned the new champion over Jessica Sanchez, was seen by an estimated 21.5 million viewers on Wednesday night, according to Deadline.com.

That would be a strong number for any other TV show -- in fact, it's the biggest audience for an entertainment program since the Oscars telecast in February.  However, it's the lowest total ever for an Idol finale.  It's certainly a major drop from last year's Idol finale, which drew 29.3 million viewers.

On the bright side for Fox, Wednesday's edition of Idol set a social media record for most-talked-about season finale for any TV show, with 1.2 million comments made across various platforms, according to Mashable.com.  Over the course of the season, Idol generated 5.9 million social media comments -- another record.

American Idol did not finish the 2011-2012 TV season, which ended Wednesday, as the highest-rated primetime program.  That honor belongs to NBC's Sunday Night Football, which averaged 20.7 million viewers, according to The Hollywood Reporter Idol averaged 19.7 million for its Wednesday performance show and 18.3 million for its Thursday results show.

As The Hollywood Reporter notes, Idol did help Fox defeat the other major broadcast networks in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic, which is highly coveted by advertisers.  CBS was the most-watched network overall.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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