By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated January 23, 2003 11:34 AM
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Even Simon Cowell should be smiling.

Tuesday’s second-season premiere episode of FOX’s amateur talent hunt, “American Idol” (in which the tart-tongued Cowell serves as one of the judges) attracted nearly 27 million viewers and helped give the network its highest-rated Tuesday night ever and its most-watched night of entertainment.

Only three Super Bowls and one World Series game have ever drawn more viewers to FOX on a single night, according to the preliminary Nielsen numbers.

“American Idol” also became the second-highest-rated reality show in TV history, beaten only by several episodes of CBS’s “Survivor.” It even outperformed its own 23-million-viewer record for the finale of the original “Idol” last summer.

So much for the show being only a summer diversion.

The ratings also mean that reality is here to stay — for a while, at least. Last week, FOX’s “Joe Millionaire” and ABC’s “The Bachelorette” were both seen by more than 17 million viewers apiece.

As for last week’s overall ratings, CBS’s Sunday night coverage of the AFC championship game between Tennessee and Oakland kicked some of the tarnish off of NBC’s Golden Globe Awards, while ABC’s Monday night American Music Awards, with Ozzy Osbourne and his family as hosts, essentially tanked.

The music show attracted a disappointing 12.9 million viewers, making that the smallest audience for the show since Nielsen began keeping records for it in 1974. Last year it was seen by 16 million.

The Top 10 shows for the week of Jan. 13-19, according to Nielsen, are as follows:

1. AFC Championships, CBS, 41.5 million viewers
2. “CSI,” CBS, 27.9 million
3. “Friends,” NBC, 23.7 million
4. “ER,” NBC, 21.8 million
5. AFC Championships Post-Game, CBS, 21 million
6. Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 20.1 million
7. “Law & Order, NBC, 19 million
8. “Scrubs,” NBC, 18 million
9. “Joe Millionaire,” FOX, 17.52 million
10. “Without a Trace,” CBS, 17.5 million