Now that Sanjaya’s gone, it’s time to settle back into the calming assurance that "American Idol" is still a huge success.
The "American Idol" tours have increased in popularity from 2002 to last year. When Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini and the other finalists introduced the country to "American Idols Live" in ’02, the tour grossed $8 million. The number is respectable, but just a small percentage of the gross from last year’s tour, which visited 55 cities and made more than $35 million.
If anyone ever questioned AEG Live’s decision five years ago to align itself with the annual tour, nobody is now.
Meanwhile, Fox’s "American Idol" had a recent Tuesday night show with 27 million viewers, followed the next night with a show viewed by 28.5 million, according to Nielsen Media Research.
That’s No. 1 and No. 2 for the week. The critically praised TV series "Lost," meanwhile, debuted a new episode that Wednesday on ABC right after "Idol" for a No. 20 rating.
Individual winners and finalists are a mixed bag. Click here for our chart of the indivdual tours.
Kelly Clarkson, the first-season winner who has moved beyond the "Idol" mantle into pop stardom, has seen the most success. Since her first solo gigs, Clarkson has generated $35 million in ticket sales. Meanwhile, Clarkson’s co-star in "From Justin To Kelly" – the show’s first runner-up, Guarini – has a nonexistent touring history.
The next season had a more controversial win when a loveable Ruben Studdard beat out popular runner-up Clay Aiken. But the big winner in ticket sales is Aiken, who has toured consistently and has $28 million gross while Studdard has a return so far of $676,000.
Meanwhile, Fantasia Barrino, Kellie Pickler, Katherine McPhee, Jennifer Hudson, Ace Young, Diana DeGarmo and Kimberly Locke have yet to show an impact live as solo acts, but time will tell.