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Fox Says ‘24’ Series Finale Drew 8.85 Million Viewers

News Corp.’s Fox said 8.85 million viewers watched last night’s two-hour series finale of “24,” the thriller where Jack Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland, races against the clock to solve crimes.

The finale trailed “Dancing With the Stars” on ABC and CBS Corp. comedies including “Two and a Half Men” in total audience and viewers ages 18 to 49, a group sought by advertisers, according to preliminary Nielsen Co. ratings data released by Los Angeles-based Fox.

During eight seasons, Bauer thwarted terrorist plots to assassinate U.S. politicians and attempts to detonate nuclear and biological weapons. The series, in which each season occurs in a simulated 24-hour period, has been Fox’s second most-watched scripted show this year behind “House,” according to Nielsen data. “24,” co-produced by Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment, first aired in November 2001.

News Corp., controlled by Chairman Rupert Murdoch, fell 27 cents to $12.63 at 12:05 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The Class A shares had declined 5.8 percent this year before today.

Fox’s prime-time audience had increased 2.6 percent this season as of May 16 and grew 1.3 percent among viewers ages 18 to 49, according to Nielsen.

“Lost,” the science-fiction series about castaways stranded on a mysterious island, drew 13.5 million viewers to its May 23 series finale, in its sixth season, Walt Disney Co.’s ABC said yesterday.

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