‘American Idol’ May Have Tumbled in the Ratings, But Its Renewal Is No Surprise

'American Idol' May Have Tumbled the

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.



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  1. Take Jennifer Lopez out as a judge please!!!!! She isn’t fair. Over zealous with Jena, fake admiration.

  2. Take Jennifer Lopez out as a judge please!!!!!

  3. Jacques Strappe says:

    It’s the FOX network admission before upfronts: “We got nuttin’.” Even though I think they should have given Idol the axe while it still had a shred of its ratings dignity left, I understand how hard it is nowadays to get viewers engaged week after week in new shows, watching them live, no matter how compelling and high quality/concept they might be. It’s all so much easier to stream it later or DVR it or forget about it altogether with viewing option overload. Renewing very marginally performing shows is becoming more common for all the nets as painfully low live ratings and no growth potential no longer guarantee cancellation. While the huge initial ratings of some reality shows like Idol are understandably like crack for network execs, it’s not like Idol or its reality peers have any syndication or repeat value and most take up a huge chunk of network real estate (yeah, I’m talking to you, Voice, too). When these shows start to fail, it can bring the entire network down with them and start to infect surrounding shows. The lesson is that successful reality programming can come with some very, very steep hidden costs, especially if they are left on the air beyond their expiration date. The damage has already been done to FOX by keeping Idol as long as it has. Conceivably, it could take a few more years of cellar dwelling ratings before they can recover.

  4. RedRiver says:

    I enjoy the media trying to bury American Idol, but it just won’t die. There’s a lot of life still in this show.

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