UPDATED: Candice Glover beat Sheldon Cooper in Orlando Thursday night. But nationally, he was more popular.
The "Idol" audience was 14.3 million -- down from 21.5 million for last season's finale. Even with that 33 percent drop, Fox still managed to win the night in total viewers and the 18-to-49 age group.
But "The Big Bang Theory" was the first program ever to beat an "American Idol" grand finale in total viewers as well as young adults.
Other programs of note: "Scandal" on ABC brought in 9.1 million viewers, its biggest audience ever. CBS' "Elementary" offered a two-hour season finale that averaged 9 million viewers. The "Grey's Anatomy" season finale on ABC attracted 9 million.
But a "Big Bang Theory" rerun on CBS did even better with 11.8 million viewers.
The prime-time averages: Fox with 14.3 million, CBS with 10.6 million, ABC with 7.3 million, NBC with 4.5 million and The CW with 1.8 million. They finished in the same order in young adults.
In Orlando, the early ratings reveal that fans returned to the fading "American Idol" as it ended its 12th season. Glover was named the winner over Kree Harrison. The two-hour finale pulled in 226,700 viewers.
The top programs in the 18-to-49 age group were "Idol," the new "Big Bang" and "Scandal."