Country crooner Scotty McCreery and Fox itself are both smiling over the conclusion of "American Idol."
Wednesday's finale of the nation's most popular television show was seen by an estimated 29.3 million people. The Nielsen Co. said Thursday that was 21 percent more than last year's ultimate show.
"American Idol" started the season with worries that the departure of Simon Cowell might siphon away fans. But ratings actually rose with the addition of judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler _ leading to the big finish with McCreery's win.
"Idol" also won bragging rights over "Dancing With the Stars." The ABC competition had 21.4 million viewers for its finale Tuesday.