Home Television Ratings: “American Idol” Takes a Beating and Numbers Fall

I don’t get it. On Wednesday, “American Idol” did pretty well, with a 3.1 in the key demo. But last night the singing contest dropped to a 2.9, and fell to 11.9 million viewers. Even though they threw in Paula Abdul and Clay Aiken as surprise guests, the show could not hold its own against two reruns of “The Big Bang Theory” sandwiched around a rerun of “Two and a Half Men.” The sitcom had a 3.2 and 3.0 respectively and scored an average of 10 million viewers– not bad considering they were reruns.

This has to be particularly vexing to the “Idol” producers. Their upstart rival, “The Voice” on NBC, scored a 5.1 this week–a high for them among 18-49 year olds. “The Voice” comes across as young and alive, while “Idol” feels like it’s struggling to keep everyone awake. This week did feature a glimmer of life as Nicki Minaj tried to get something going with Mariah Carey by calling her “sir.” But it wasn’t enough to make viewers sit up and notice.

Meanwhile, “Idol” has really got a lot of good performers this year. Candice Glover and Angie Miller are excellent, and the competition is top notch.


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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
3 replies to this post
  1. Girl viewers vote for boys. They had no boys worth voting for.

    Now they have no boys at all.

    So there go the girl viewers, too.

    Pretty easy to understand, eh?

  2. Nicki Minaj should be removed, watching her lingo and hearing her vitriolic comments are sickening. Not good when you watch the show with family kids. The rating will nosedive with her using Idol as her platform to show her antics.

  3. I think the reason is due to a couple of things. First, this season of AI has been extremely manipulated to ensure a female winner, and while we all expect production interference with reality shows, it’s been very transparent and off-putting. Although I love Candace Glover and most of the remaining ladies, there’s no way there weren’t more suitable male contestants to include in the “competition”. Cannon fodder contestants aren’t entertaining.

    Secondly, the judges on AI vs. the coaches on The Voice. AI seems very scripted to go along with what Nigel Lythgoe wants the results to be, whereas the coaches on The Voice seem to have their own opinions and an easygoing flow/style. It’s more enjoyable to watch.

    Third – and this is what I think really drives the ratings for a younger demographic, is song selection. Consider that The Voice has current/recent hits – and AI’s theme weeks are repetitive season to season, the same songs are covered numerous times, and last week we had 2 hours of Burt Bacarach? The answer’s right there, for me.

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