It was a no-brainer that Fox would renew “American Idol” for a 14th season, but the show’s ratings trajectory suggests that this decision will be more difficult in the near future.
The music competition series is averaging a 3.4 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 and 12.3 million viewers overall for its two-hour Wednesday performance shows this season — still pretty good numbers, especially for one in its 13th year, but a far cry from its averages of even two years ago. “Idol” is down 29% from its average of last year at this time, and 47% lower than its 2012 season, according to Nielsen.
But it wasn’t really until this season that its declines had a significant effect on “Idol’s” status as one of TV’s top-rated (and most feared) programs.
Series airing on the competition, including “Survivor” and “Criminal Minds” on CBS and “Modern Family” and “The Middle” on ABC, have broken through with ratings firsts opposite “Idol” this season, and the music contest has been kept out of the weekly top 10 (or even 15) in most recent weeks.
For all its (relative) struggles this season, though, “American Idol” remains Fox’s No. 1-rated series in both adults 18-49 and total viewers. But this also says something about the overall performance of the network, which already cancelled “The X Factor” due to poor ratings and has been placing fourth most weeks this spring.
There will come a day when Fox is strong enough throughout the week that it can afford to say goodbye to “American Idol.” But that time clearly is not now.