LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - More than 29 million Americans tuned in to see teen country singer Scotty McCreery crowned as the 2011 "American Idol" -- a 21 percent increase in the audience for the big finale of the Fox TV talent show.
Fox said on Thursday that preliminary estimates showed that 29.3 million viewers watched Wednesday's finale. The audience in the 18-49 age group most coveted by advertisers rose 12 percent compared to the 2010 finale.
Fox said it was the first time in five years that "American Idol" had grown its 18-49 year old audience for the finale.
The higher numbers reflected a push by "American Idol" producers to attract younger contestants, and the introduction of new judges Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith rocker Steven Tyler to stem a four years ratings slide.
McCreery, 17, and runner-up Lauren Alaina, 16, made for the youngest ever finale match-up in the 10 year history of the show.
Last year, just 24.2 million overall viewers watched the "American Idol" finale, which has been a lucrative source of advertising revenue for Fox for more than seven years.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Christine Kearney