Maybe the result was a foregone conclusion or auds have become weary of bloated season finales, but the conclusion to Fox’s “American Idol” didn’t pack the same ratings punch this time around.
The longest episode of “American Idol” to date — show needed 129 minutes to put the crown on 17-year-old Jordin Sparks — dominated the action on the final night of the television season, punctuating Fox’s victory for the May sweep. Still, it was down about 20% from the “Idol” conclusion of a year ago.
ABC’s “Lost” also saw a similar year-to-year falloff with its finale, but it was above recent averages despite opposing “Idol” for more than an hour.
“Idol” and “Lost” were the only two shows doing much in the ratings as CBS, NBC and the CW closed out the season with repeats.
According to same-day Nielsen nationals, “American Idol” averaged a 11.5 rating/31 share in adults 18-49 and 30.73 million viewers overall from 8 to 10:09 p.m. After opening with an 8.8 demo rating and 23.6 million viewers overall in its opening half-hour, “Idol” surged to a 15.2 demo rating and more than 39 million viewers in the closing minutes.
“Idol” was down 19% in 18-49, 26% in 18-34 (9.6 vs. 13.1) and 16% in total viewers (30.74 million vs. 36.38m) vs. last year’s finale, which was contained to 124 minutes.
For the season, “Idol” editions on Wednesday and Tuesday finished as the top two programs in both adults 18-49 and total viewers, according to Nielsen. Thanks to a hot start, the franchise finished the season down just 4% vs. a year ago in the demo (12.1 vs. 12.6) and off just 1% in total viewers (30.32 million vs. 30.78 million).
At ABC, the third-season finale of “Lost” averaged a 5.9/15 in 18-49 and 13.86 million viewers overall, up 13% week to week but down 22% vs. last year’s conclusion, which aired in the same timeslot.
“Lost” numbers are expected to get a boost when DVR playback is factored in; Nielsen reported earlier this season that the ABC drama is the show whose audience increases the most when seven-day playback is included.
ABC finished the May sweep in second place to Fox — its most competitive position in seven years — and was the only net to improve upon its performance of a year ago. Alphabet was up 3% in adults 18-49 and 14% in total viewers, with its largest average May aud in six years.
For Fox, the May sweep victory among adults 18-49 is its fourth in the past five years. Net also capped its third consecutive season as the top-rated net in primetime in 18-49 (Daily Variety, May 23) and younger demos, while CBS won the season in adults 25-54 and total viewers.
Joining ABC on the upswing during May was Univision, which rode telenovelas “Fea Mas Bella” and “Destilando Amor” to a competitive 1.8 rating in adults 18-34 (vs. a 1.6 a year ago), just a couple of ticks behind NBC and CBS.