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‘Idol’ Episode Draws More Viewers Than Year Ago

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- News Corp.’s Fox TV network said “American Idol” drew 2 percent more viewers last night, the first time the singing competition gained over last season.

“Idol,” the most-watched show on U.S. TV, attracted 24.9 million viewers last night to auditions in Austin, Texas, Fox said today in a statement. Last year 24.5 million watched the auditions.

The show is narrowing viewership declines this season after Los Angeles-based Fox retooled the program, added judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, and moved the broadcast to Wednesday and Thursday nights. This season, “Idol” has shrunk 9 percent in total audience and is down 14 percent among viewers ages 18 to 49, a group advertisers target, Gaude Paez, a Fox spokesman, said in an e-mail.

“The show is picking up momentum,” Preston Beckman, who oversees Fox’s schedule, said today in an interview. “The fans of ‘Idol’ are embracing the differences and the new sensibility. Now, it’s up to us to give them a singing competition.”

News Corp., controlled by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch, gained 97 cents, or 6 percent, to $16.96 at 4:30 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The Class A shares gained 6.4 percent last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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