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OTRC: Casey Abrams' 'American Idol' shocker helps show earn top ratings

Casey Abrams holds onto 'American Idol' host Ryan Seacrest after judges spare him from elimination on season 10's Top 11 Results Show on Thursday, March 24, 2011. (FOX)

The recent shocking episode of "American Idol" which saw the judges exercising a rare move to spare contestant Casey Abrams from elimination after he was announced as the next person to leave the series, was Thursday's most watched show but did not beat ratings from the day before.

An estimated 22.4 million people aged 18 to 49 watched the program, which earned a 6.2 rating, the Hollywood Reporter said. Ratings soared during the suspenseful final half hour, growing 17 percent in total viewers, it added.

The episode also featured a cameo from wrestling star Hulk Hogan, who appeared to surprise contestant James Durbin, a singer known for his rocker wail who was shown in an earlier segment play-wrestling several other contestants and talking about his love for the sport.

On "American Idol" on Wednesday, the remaining 11 contestants sang Motown songs. An estimated 23.5 million viewers watched the episode. Last Thursday's results show was seen by 19 million people and aired at the same time as the popular NCAA tournament. The show's elimination episode on March 10 was watched by 21.7 million viewers, the Hollywood Reporter said.

In 2010, an estimated 24.21 million people watched the Top 11 finalists perform.

Last year, following a decrease in ratings that began around 2006, FOX's hit singing contest show revamped its judges panel and rehired an executive producer for its current 10th season. The final episode of "Amercan Idol" - the last featuring judge Simon Cowell, was watched by 24.22 million people - down from 36.38 million who tuned into the finale in 2006.

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