'Glee' rockets up the ratings

glee-0413-320.jpg"Glee" was a lot of things during its fall run this season, but at just under 8 million viewers a week, one thing it wasn't was a bona fide hit.

That changed Tuesday night (April 13).

The FOX series scored the biggest audience in its short history Tuesday, going from cult favorite to top-20 show in the span of one hour. The headline numbers are 13.66 million viewers -- more than 5 million above its season average of 7.95 million -- and a 5.6 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic, a bump of two full points over its fall run.

(The show's previous high mark was for the pilot episode last May, which drew 9.6 million viewers and a 3.9 in the 18-49 demo.)

Having "American Idol" as a lead-in certainly helped, but that's not the only factor in the improved ratings. FOX did a pretty brilliant job at keeping fan awareness high while the show was off, and newcomers had a chance to catch up with a DVD set of the first 13 episodes.

The most striking thing about the ratings Tuesday, to me at least, was the fact that among adults 18-34 -- where "Glee" has had the most success all season -- it actually outdrew "American Idol" (5.8 to 5.6). That almost never happens. "Glee" also retained a higher percentage of "Idol's" adults 18-49 rating than lead-out since a February 2008 episode of "House" and held onto two-thirds of the overall audience, which is also pretty strong for a show airing after "American Idol."

TV being a what-have-you-done-for-me-today kind of business, it will be interesting to watch "Glee's" ratings for the rest of its run. But if it can stay within a reasonable distance of the numbers it put up Tuesday, FOX's decision to give the show an early pickup for next season is going to look increasingly smart.

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Photo credit: FOX

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