By DAVID BAUDER
NEW YORK - For the past decade, the "American Idol" season finale has been one of television's biggest events of the year. Now it's not even TV's biggest event of the week.
The Nielsen company estimated that 14.3 million people watched Candice Glover's victory over Kree Harrison in last week's final episode of the season. The CBS drama "NCIS" and comedy "The Big Bang Theory" each had more viewers.
The viewership was a startling half of the 29.3 million people who watched in 2011 and also down from the 21.5 million who watched last year. The feud between judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey may have turned viewers off. Original judge Randy Jackson has already announced he is leaving, and more changes are expected soon.
Ten years ago, "American Idol" hit a high-water mark with 38.1 million people watching the show's season finale.
ABC couldn't quite topple CBS last week but saw some encouraging numbers: The season finale of "Scandal" had the largest audience for that show, while the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday had the highest viewership for that show in 10 years, Nielsen said.
In an ominous sign for the summer, Fox's season premiere of "So You Think You Can Dance" reached only 5.1 million viewers last week.
CBS won the week in prime time, averaging 7.9 million viewers. ABC had 7.5 million and won among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic craved by advertisers. Fox had 5.8 million, NBC had 5.5 million, Univision had 3.4 million, Telemundo had 1.6 million, the CW had 1.3 million, and ION Television had 1.2 million.
TNT was the most popular cable network for the week, averaging 3.6 million viewers in prime time. USA had 2.5 million, Fox News Channel had 2.04 million, the Disney Channel had 2.03 million, and TBS had 1.6 million.
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 7.5 million viewers. ABC's "World News" was second with 6.7 million, and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.8 million viewers.
1. "NCIS," CBS, 18.79 million
2. "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 15.48 million
3. "American Idol" (Thursday), Fox, 14.31 million
4. "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 13.52 million
5. "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 13.33 million
6. "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 12.11 million
7. "Dancing With the Stars Results," ABC, 11.87 million
8. "The Big Bang Theory" (Thursday, 8:30 p.m.), CBS, 11.84 million
9. "The Voice" (Monday), NBC, 11.29 million
10. "Castle," ABC, 11.16 million
11. "Criminal Minds," CBS, 10.56 million
12. "The Voice" (Tuesday), NBC, 10.47 million
13. "60 Minutes," CBS, 10.19 million
14. "Modern Family," ABC, 10.03 million
15. "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 9.53 million
16. "Billboard Music Awards," ABC, 9.48 million
17. "Scandal," ABC, 9.12 million
18. "Grey's Anatomy," ABC, 8.99 million
19. "Elementary," CBS, 8.98 million
20. "2 Broke Girls," CBS, 8.94 million
Originally published by DAVID BAUDER Associated Press.
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