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An estimated 33.7 million viewers tuned in to watch last night’s climax, more than watched the Academy Awards in March, traditionally the year’s most-watched entertainment event.

J AND RCA INK AMERICAN IDOLS

Ruben Studdard Inked by J, Clay Aiken Going to RCA
Next stop for Ruben Studdard will be the halls of J Records.

The American Idol winner, who topped second-place finisher Clay Aiken by less than 130k votes out of 24 million cast in last night’s finale of the Fox-TV show, has signed with Clive Davis’ album through series creator Simon Fuller’s 19 Recordings Ltd.

Davis will now executive-produce Studdard’s full-length debut album with consultation from Fuller for a September release.

Studdard’s recording of his winning song, "Flying Without Wings," will be released as a single by J next week.

Aiken, the lanky, 24-year-old Raleigh, NC, native, has also been inked to a deal by the RCA Records Group. A single from the runner-up is expected within the next few weeks also.

The first American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson’s debut RCA album, Thankful, bowed at #1 in its first week, selling 300k copies as the year’s best-selling release by a first-time artist. The album just received platinum status, having sold more than 1.3 million copies in just five short weeks.

Both Studdard and Aiken appear on the American Idol finalists’ hit single version of Lee Greenwood’s "God Bless the U.S.A."

American Idol’s second season on Fox has been averaging 21 million viewers per episode, dominating its time slot. An estimated 33.7 million viewers tuned in to watch last night’s climax, more than watched the Academy Awards in March, traditionally the year’s most-watched entertainment event. During the last half-hour, when the winner was finally announced, viewership climbed to just under 40 million.

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