Richard Drew, Associated Press
"American Idol" winner David Cook, left, and runner-up David Archuleta appear on NBC's "Today" on Thursday.

NEW YORK — David Cook's "American Idol" win is already paying dividends on the music charts.

The 25-year-old singer raked in 942,000 digital downloads in just a week, according to figures released Thursday by Nielsen SoundScan. The numbers are from the week ending Sunday.

Runner-up on the Fox show, Utahn David Archuleta, amassed 323,000 downloads in the same period. The next closest "Idol" contender was Jason Castro, with 64,000 downloads.

Cook, from Blue Springs, Mo., last week defeated the 17-year-old Archuleta of Murray by a margin of 12 million votes out of the record 97.5 million cast by viewers.

He wasn't the only one whose downloads jumped markedly. George Michael, Carrie Underwood and ZZ Top all saw huge increases in downloads after making guest appearances on the show.

Cook plans to release an album this fall.

Cook said Thursday before performing on NBC's "Today" show that he doesn't abide by the conventional three-day wait period after a date.

"I don't really believe in any sort of theories," he said. "I just kind of call when I call."

Which begs the question: Has he called — or texted — "Idol" alum Kimberly Caldwell? Cook said Tuesday on "Live With Regis and Kelly" that he recently had a dinner date with Caldwell, 26, who appeared on the second season of the top-rated Fox show. The verdict: he had a good time, and they'll "probably hang out again."

Two days later, surrounded by screaming fans outside Rockefeller Center, Cook responded diplomatically to a Caldwell question by the AP: "Great girl, we hung out and we'll see what happens."

The rocker/ex-bartender transformed into this season's heartthrob around the time he got rid of his unpopular comb-forward haircut and grew facial scruff.

When asked if his in-season makeover contributed to his success, Cook said: "I don't really know. I think, you know, for me it was time to get a haircut. I forgot to shave one week. It's really all it is. ... I hope that at the end of the day, I did well on my own musical merit."

Cook and Archuleta each took the stage on the "Today" plaza. Signs in the audience read: "Cookie I am your oldest fan. '64.' Can I have a hug?" and "Life is betta with Archuleta." Someone yelled: "I'm missing school for you!"

Archuleta performed "Think of Me" from "The Phantom of the Opera." Cook crooned "The Time of My Life," which ranks third on Billboard's list of the "Hot 100" singles.

Archuleta, who has a penchant for socially conscious songs, said he hopes his post-"Idol" album will include music that's "fun and still has some meaning to it."

Cook said he'll begin recording his album (slated for release in the fall) this summer while crossing the country on the "American Idol's Live!" Tour. The tour, which features the show's top 10 contestants, kicks off July 1 in Glendale, Ariz., and ends in September in Tulsa, Okla.

"I'm gonna do like a calypso jazz fusion record," he said jokingly. "No, I mean big surprise: my record will probably be a rock record."


On the Net: The "Today" show: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032633/

"American Idol": www.americanidol.com/