Posted: 2:11 pm Tuesday, March 25th, 2014
By Rodney Ho
It’s amazing how quickly “American Idol” has fallen off the pop culture radar the past two seasons. Ratings are down more than 25 percent year over year. Compared to 2012, the 18-49 demo share has fallen by two thirds. In other words, only one-third as many 18 to 49 year olds are watching the show this season vs. 2012.
The slide is so sharp, other aging reality shows such as “Dancing With the Stars” and “Survivor” are beating “Idol” in key viewership ratings measurements.
Last week’s return of “Dancing With the Stars,” at 15.44 million viewers, easily beat the “Idol” performance show that week in both overall viewers and 18-49 year olds (2.6 vs. 2.2)
CBS’s “Survivor,” going head to head with “Idol” last Wednesday, beat “Idol” in 18-49 ratings and had almost the same size audience. And that show is older than “Idol”!
“Idol” drew a mere 9.83 million viewers during the top 10 performance show with a 2.2 18-49 rating. “Survivor’ brought in 9.56 million viewers and a 2.5 18-49 rating. That’s the first time “Idol” has fallen below 10 million for a live performance show.
The “Idol” results show didn’t even reach 9 million viewers and fell to a series low 2.0 18-49, matching “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” for comparison’s sake.
Idol Pad is speculating now that Fox is certain bring “Idol” back, but with major budget cuts and fewer episodes. MJ’s blog, which now focuses more of its time on other shows than “Idol” out of necessity, wonders if it would be better to just kill our once beloved show than see a cut-down version.
Given how much the show costs and disappearing profits, Fox may have no choice but to kill the show after season 14 if ratings continue to tank.
One suggestion here on this blog: Fox could officially announce in advance that 2015 would be the final season and turn it into a nostalgia fest, bringing back former “Idol” contestants and even Brian Dunkleman, Paula Abdul and Kara DioGuardi, just for kicks, to talk about the show’s impact. Reward those of us who have been around since 2002.
No matter how much viewers have enjoyed Harry Connick Jr., he and the other two judges struggled to find any buzz-worthy singers this year to help maintain ratings during the live shows. Caleb Johnson is entertaining but he’s no Adam Lambert. Producers were probably hoping Sam Woolf would be a singer-songwriter version of Scotty McCreery. He’s not there. And while Alex Preston is pretty solid on the show, he isn’t burning up social media. Others, such as Majesty Rose, have potential, but are not ready for pop stardom.
My top 9 power rankings:
1. Caleb Johnson. At first, I thought his Lady Gaga cover would be epic. Instead, it was just meh. But for now, nobody else is challenging him for the top spot. (last week- 1)
2. Alex Preston. He is secure in who he is and takes any song and turns it into an Alex Preston song. Even when he’s off key, it doesn’t matter. His confidence makes a big difference. He picked a perfectly viable current pop song with One Direction’s “Story of My Life” and made it work. He’s a smart dude angling for a finale spot. ( last week -3)
3. Jena Irene. She took some chances last week, opting for an electronica song, moving around the stage while bellowing “Clarity” with that very distinctive intonation. I like her because she is picking good songs and building more comfort performing, even without a piano. (last week -2)
4. Sam Woolf. I give Sam credit for trying to stretch himself. He was punished for it two weeks ago after his Beatles cover, landing in the bottom two. Last week, he escaped that fate going for a .fun song. I thought it was decent. I wish he could loosen up more and just relax. Else, he may soon find himself gone. (5)
5. Majesty Rose. She has been stumbling and bumbling for awhile now, her early promise fading. Last week was an improvement but maybe not enough to make me think she’s out of the woods. Indeed, she was in the bottom three again, a bad sign. (4)
6. Malaya Watson. I’m so glad she found a song she could connect with last week with Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man.” It was her best performance to date. She is learning and maturing. Another knockout night this week and I might push her ahead of Majesty. (8)
7. Jessica Meuse. I’m losing patience with Jessica. I really thought early on she was better than this but she has failed to find her groove on the live stage. (5)
8. C.J. Harris. He followed his best performance with his worst last week. This guy’s inconsistency is going to kill him. While Alex is a one-trick pony, he can take any song and do it well. C.J. needs just the right song to shine and how many of those are out there? (7)
9. Dexter Roberts. He’s failed to convince me he is anything but mediocre. He cruised through “Cruise” without giving it an oomph he isn’t capable of bringing. Artistry? What is that? (9)
“Idol” will have the contestants sing with the band. So they are open to pick pretty much any song they want, as long as it involves the band. That’s a new theme – or really a non-theme, in a sense. If Jessica Meuse needs to step up her game, this is the time.
And the results show, featuring Janelle Monae, will be just 30 minutes long. The last time they had a 30-minute results show was season 5!
About the Author
I'm the media writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and ajc.com. I've been following radio since 2001, TV since 2005. I cover everything from the local radio and TV news scene to shows shot in Atlanta ("The Walking Dead," "Real Housewives of Atlanta") to networks based here (CNN, TBS, Up, Weather Channel) to celebrities who visit town.