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‘Idol’ ratings plummet 16%, 24% among 18-49 year olds

Colton Dixon and Schyler Dixon on AMERICAN IDOL airing Wednesday, Jan. 18 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

Colton Dixon and Schyler Dixon on AMERICAN IDOL airing Wednesday, Jan. 18 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

[UPDATED to reflect final Nielsen numbers.]

Now we know what the early impact of “The X Factor” and “The Voice” has had on “American Idol,” which debuted last night for its 11th season: a major negative and more so among younger viewers.

Compared to a year ago, ‘Idol” saw its ratings tumble from 26.25 million for the season 10 opener to 21.93 million last night. That’s an 16.45 percent drop off, presumably a lot of folks who preferred “The X Factor” and didn’t feel the need to commit to “Idol” season 11. That is also a 28 percent fall from two years ago, when the show debuted at 29.9 million viewers.

Among younger viewers, the impact was even bigger, falling from a 9.8 to 7.4 rating. That’s a whopping 24 percent fall off. And compared to 2010? The 18-49 rating was 11.8. That’s a 37 percent drop over two years. Scary!

Sadly, it usually only goes down from here so we may be seeing viewership numbers in the 16 to 19 million range the rest of the season, compared to 22 to 25 million last year.

In other news, “Idol” is available on demand for the first time on these cable systems: Armstrong Cable, AT&T U-verse, Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Cox, Mediacom, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS and Xfinity TV.

Join my Facebook fan page and Twitter.

By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

115 comments Add your comment

JTesla

January 19th, 2012
11:56 am

That big of a drop and still number 1. Well it couldn’t maintain those numbers forever, and it will probably continue to slide. It is just how television works.

Rickster

January 19th, 2012
12:01 pm

Well sure Idol’s numbers tanked. It’s the tv equivalent of a “dead man walking.” It’s on its last legs. It’s history. It’s toast. Won’t be long till it’s pushing up the daisies.

And all us bloggers need to get a life.

Does that about cover it? :-)

Rickster

January 19th, 2012
12:03 pm

Deirdre

January 19th, 2012
12:04 pm

I’m still thinking that the drop is due, in part, because JLo and ST aren’t new judges anymore. I wouldn’t even begin to think of XF as a “factor” in the drop.

And why is it still the #1 show for the night? Especially with Modern Family up against it. Has every show dropped a considerable amount this year?

Frank Ski's Stunt Man

January 19th, 2012
12:05 pm

There’s still HOPE for America…………finally waking up

JTesla

January 19th, 2012
12:10 pm

Deirdre, let’s face it Rickster is onto something. I mean the people telling us that Idol is dead, over, on it’s last legs, and soon to be canceled have been calling for this drop for the last 5 years. After 5 years they finally got it. It only took the nay-sayers 5 years to finally get it right.

And by right I mean wrong because as you pointed out it’s still number one in its slot. Someday it won’t be. Oh well.

Deirdre

January 19th, 2012
12:15 pm

LOL! They’re going to be right eventually I guess!

Pitchy

January 19th, 2012
12:20 pm

How do they know the age of the person actually watching the show? Don’t mean to ask a dumb question, but yeah I’m curious. They do not know who’s watching what with most homes having multiple tvs…Nielsen knows the show is on, but who’s watching it???

DanJ

January 19th, 2012
12:21 pm

XFactor, The Voice, AGT and all the other competitions shows may partially be the cause for the loss in ratings from nothing more than oversaturation. When is enough…enough? I also think some people have started to tune out the auditions parts of the shows. I for one hate the bad auditions from those wearing stupid costumes or simply those seeking their 20 seconds of fame. I was glad to see Idol has cut down on those.

I don’t think one night means a whole hill of beans, while it may be a precursor of things to come it might also just be an anomaly.

Janet

January 19th, 2012
12:23 pm

I’ve been losing inerest for the last several years. Caught maybe 10 minutes of the usual “vocal pyrotechnics” and production tics. I will pay only tangential attention this year — at best. It’s tired, it isn’t rewarding interesting talent, and it doesn’t have much buzz. Yawn.

Denise

January 19th, 2012
12:24 pm

I cant imagine X Factor having anything to due with the drop in ratings…all of you negative bloggers can only hope. Idol is still the biggest and best, the others are all Idol wanna bees. I think last years debut was strong because of the new judges. Having said that, I didnt see anyone last night to compare to the top 13 Idol gave us last year…what a great group season ten was. I will be watching again tonight

Allison Wonderland

January 19th, 2012
12:32 pm

Stick a fork in it!! DONE!!!

Louis Lewow

January 19th, 2012
12:34 pm

It’s more than just the additional competition from shows like “The X Factor” , “The Sing Off” and “The Voice.” I believe that it goes to the very concept of the show. You are watching this long process to see the next big thing on the American music scene. With winners like Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, David Cook, Taylor Hicks, etc. And “losers” like Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry, does the show ever really deliver the goods it promises. Beyond the solid careers of Kelly & Carrie, have you seen any “Idols” come through. It’s season 11…time to deliver or go away!!

DanJ

January 19th, 2012
12:48 pm

Louis, I don’t think you can blame the winners of the shows on that particular show unless you blame the voting system in place for that show. The viewers vote, especially the teenagers. While I haven’t agreed on the winner of Idol since Carrie Underwood I see it (Idol) for what it is. A money making machine masked as a talent show. However it’s still better than almost anything on television. Notice I said ALMOST.

Deirdre

January 19th, 2012
1:09 pm

I still don’t think the popularity of the show has anything to do with how successful the winners are. True, a successful winner can bring in new viewers but I don’t watch the show to see who wins. I watch the show to see the contestants grow and change and learn. I watch the show because it feels more “honest” than all its competitors. I watch the show because it’s fun.

Stinky Binky

January 19th, 2012
1:28 pm

Are you all groupies or something? It’s just a t.v. show. Sheesh!

DanJ

January 19th, 2012
1:38 pm

Stinky Binky Quote: [Are you all groupies or something? It's just a t.v show. Sheesh.] We’re something albeit not groupies. We just enjoy intellectual debate!

Rickster

January 19th, 2012
1:50 pm

Are we really expected to take seriously anything from someone who uses the moniker “Stinky Blinky?”

Isn’t that a Tele-Tubby?

[...] more ‘Idol’ ratings plummet 18%, 27% among 18-49 year olds at Radio & TV Talk… /* * * CONFIGURATION VARIABLES: EDIT BEFORE PASTING INTO YOUR [...]

Mercedes S.

January 19th, 2012
2:09 pm

Yes, Stinky, and proud of it!

Jenny

January 19th, 2012
2:11 pm

Hi everyone! Well, I missed the main commentary thread, but will post my thoughts anyway. What a great show last night! I love when they focus mostly on the good ones… not so many joke auditions. And K&CF said it perfectly earlier: “The old, comfy show we’ve known and loved (or loved to hate at times!) was back!” My thoughts exactly. No matter how disgusted I sometimes get by May… I always love the next fresh start. :-)

One thing that really jumped out at me was. WOW, so many good girls… I think they are really hoping (and trying to set it up) for a girl to finally win again.

It was fun to see Savannah, too. Such a pretty location at the Hyatt on Bay Street/River Street. Have been to River Street on many a St. Patrick’s Day!! :-) Although I wonder what happened with Charleston? I thought it was odd that they tried to make the Charleston scenes appear to be Savannah… but Savannah does not have a Coliseum, nor a Fox News 28.

On to the contestants! I thought the Anti-Astro was sweet, and pretty good! (and thank goodness… because the XF Astro needs some good old fashioned parental discipline, certainly not a record contract!!) :-) Oh, and Neg, funny that I was calling him the Anti-Astro too while watching.

I really liked Gabbi. I could see her doing very well. I liked the pitcher’s kid, too, and I don’t think the “awkward silence” was real. It looked very contrived. And Steven’s comment could easily have been spliced together. (Not sure what the point of showing it was, though… the show was so good last night on its own… icky comments just bring it down, and aren’t needed to get people talking about it.)

Colton was good, although his sister looked pretty jealous as she watched. How much do you want to bet he makes it fairly far, while she gets cut… drama, drama!

I liked Stephanie also. Although I did have a moment of worry when they introduced “Stephanie Renae”… my first thought was oh, no, PLEASE don’t let Chris have a sister. But thankfully, I quickly saw it was spelled differently. Whew!

Rickster and K&CF, I too was thinking Brittany really looked like Carrie!

I thought Phillip was your typical sweet, small town South Georgia boy with such a cute smile and cute personality… but he wasn’t my favorite voice of the night… hmmm, maybe I need to go re-watch after seeing how much you all liked him??

Seth T.

January 19th, 2012
2:12 pm

Last year on Regis, after Pia Toscano was eliminated, it was discussed that the voting system was insane. This went on into USA Today, other TV and radio shows — that your vote is basically meaningless, unless you vote like a manic fan with nothing else to do.

While Steven Tyler is interesting and a positive to some viewers, to others he is a model of Rock Star (former) drug addiction and an aging relic of music from a previous generation.

J. Lo is not really very interesting as a judge, especially to the teens/20’s music/entertainment fans.
Randy Jackson is old news, losing his hearing and can’t add any real excitement to the show anymore.

Last year, some questionable talent such as Stefano, and some others were “cast” into the top 12 that were only fill, while some better talent was left behind.

The show is now sometimes called “Country Idol”, where it was demonstrated last year that Country fans can dominate the party, choose not only the winner, but the top 2, drinking and toasting success with a red solo cup.

(I like some Country and play it myself live, so I’m not piling-on – the song red solo cup is a current hit by Toby Keith, check-it out)

Idol is loaded with young talent this year, and there is no reason they can’t put together really good top 24 – but it will take better judgement than they utilized last year. They need to get some younger Judges and and fix a voting system that tells the average viewer that their vote is meaningless unless they vote for 2 solid hours or use a speed dialer devise.

Maybe X-Factor was such a bummer that it turned-off some potential viewers of other talent shows as well.

Woodpappy

January 19th, 2012
2:14 pm

I’ve never put much into those TV polls. Heck, I’ve never been polled and I’ve watched IDOL since day 1 of Season 1. And you guys are right, Do they call homes asking what are you watching on TV right now and by the way, how old are you????
I’m so glad Idol is back and from the look of things there is some really good talent going to Hollywood.

Yawn

January 19th, 2012
2:24 pm

People are over Idol.

The United States of China

January 19th, 2012
2:31 pm

Jumped the shark… FINALLY!

ole richie (the artist formerly know as real music)

January 19th, 2012
2:31 pm

i never really care to watch the auditions and just wait till talent is sorted out. Even though ppl are “over it” ppl still continue to watch

pb

January 19th, 2012
2:35 pm

The show is just not that exciting anymore, after all these years. Excitement of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler as new judges has worn off. Only so much you can do to keep the concept going after awhile. And also, like people have said, more competition from similar shows. I think a couple years is all it has left. Not saying it was a bad show— just its time is over.

Back 2 Bama

January 19th, 2012
2:35 pm

Idol sucks please end the show put it to rest. Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Hudson are the only contestants that took the world by storm. The others are no more than “D” List neverbees…..

G5

January 19th, 2012
2:43 pm

Maybe because it sucks. When was the last time anyone of the winners did anything of substance. Plus, Steven Tyler is a creep who is creepy to look at and Jennifer Lopez is a not likable diva. May this please be the last season!

richard whiskey

January 19th, 2012
2:44 pm

tired of ryan semencrust,steven tyler’s schtick is already non-funny,j-lo-is boring and randy is old and fat enough of this already

Mark

January 19th, 2012
2:44 pm

This show has lost all it’s luster. I stopped watching after about the 4th season. The show really sucks now.

Harriett

January 19th, 2012
2:47 pm

I was very pleased and entertained with last night’s episode and am excited for tonight’s! I agree with Jenny about Charleston. You’d think it all went on in GA. Oh, well, we are getting quite enough of the national spotlight this week, so it is just as well.

G

January 19th, 2012
2:50 pm

I don’t see the drop in viewers as a big deal at this point. As DanJ mentioned above, I see maybe an oversaturation of singing/talent competion shows………during the off-season of AI. Other than the hard core fans of AI, some people are just burned out. They’re mailing it in until the final 24 or 12.

Think back years ago when AI was the only game in town, of its kind. Now add in Sing Off, AGT, The Voice, XF, etc. and all of that adds up to year round competitions. What’s there to miss when the premise of all the shows are the same?

woodrow

January 19th, 2012
2:50 pm

I think Simon was right, Kelly Clarkston is the first and last worthwhile winner from the 1st season. Everyone since then have been yawners.

Jenny

January 19th, 2012
2:50 pm

I know Harriett… I kept wondering why it wasn’t even mentioned! I love Charleston and was hoping to see it spotlighted a little bit also.

WHITEandGOLD

January 19th, 2012
2:54 pm

Shocking… this show needs to go away completely…

elroy

January 19th, 2012
2:58 pm

idol is stale & has not been worth watcing for years. singing reality shows(& all reality shows) have lost their luster. there are only three reality shws that are worth watching, in my opinion: Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares & The Ultimate Fighter.

Sam-A

January 19th, 2012
2:59 pm

Jenny: I’ve really liked your remarks – you remind me a little bit of our dear K&CF (minus the K&C addictions of course).

Where did the duffuses above between Woodpappy and Harriett crawl from? Why are they here if that’s their true opinion of Idol which, from their comments, I assume they don’t even deign to watch!

Sam-A

January 19th, 2012
3:00 pm

Elroy certainly has sophisticated & elegant tastes in television fare!

LargeND

January 19th, 2012
3:04 pm

As an ardent American Idol hater, I can’t wait for this crap to be canceled. Worthless garbage. I don’t care about people looking to become ’stars’. I do look for quality entertainment on TV. AI isn’t it and never will be.

Jenny

January 19th, 2012
3:08 pm

Thanks, Sam! :-) I guess in my case the K could be for Katharine… she’s tied with Adam for my second-favorite ever behind Carrie.

Oh, and I think we are on the front page. ;-)

JTesla

January 19th, 2012
3:13 pm

People keep talking about them Mayans, but it’s this American Idol garbage that will bring about the apocalypse. I hate Idol so much that I refuse to click on the little links that take me to articles about it, I also refuse to comment on American Idol because that would be in essence justifying its continued existence. Every hit those American Idol pages get is viewed as a person being in favor of this schlock. What you don’t realize is that in reality every hit this page gets is another hit on the nail on the lid of the coffin that is the United States of America!

Booyah!

Fergie

January 19th, 2012
3:16 pm

American Idol has run it course. The winners go on to do absolutely nothing for the most part. People are sick and tired of looking at those judges too.

Negalomania

January 19th, 2012
3:17 pm

Premiere ratings dropped primarily because there wasn’t the off-season tabloid drama or controversy with the judges that attracts drive-by curiosity seekers. I suspect that moving forward there will be a much smaller drop-off, as those who did tune in are likely the base of viewers who will continue with the show. Ultimately, the talent quality will drive the ratings.

LawDawg

January 19th, 2012
3:18 pm

I think this is largely because last season of American Idol was simply terrible. None of the singers were all that good (and Scotty whatever just has the most punchable face of all time) and the new judges were pretty terrible. X-Factor was not great, but much better than last Idol.

Gary

January 19th, 2012
3:19 pm

Glad to count myself as one of those so burned out on Idol that I refuse to watch it any more but don’t assume that I and others like me are watching the Voice and X factor instead. The glut of these over dramatized talent shows is a big turn off. What ever happened to simple talent shows like Ted Mack’s amateur hour. OK we dont need to go that far back, but most of what is on now is hype and backstory, only a few minutes of each episode is actually watching someone with talent perform. Pity.

Deirdre

January 19th, 2012
3:28 pm

Ok, let me explain how the Neilson ratings work. It is not done with phone calls. There are 3 ways that tv ratings are determined. 1. A Neilson “family” has a device attached to their tv sets that automatically monitors what is on, when it’s turned off, when someone is channel surfing and how often someone is watching that program. 2. There is also a device that let’s Neilson know WHO is watching. If there are kids in the family, adults and older people, the device will tell the service which age group is watching which program. With the advent of computers, these devices can now report nearly instantly. ( I was a Neilson family once but not for TV. I took a device with me to the grocery store and scanned the bar code of everything I put in my buggie) 3. There is also the Arbitron ratings which used to be in booklet form that people mailed in every week but I’m pretty sure is done on a computer now(I used to be an Arbitron “family” long ago in the dark ages) As an Arbitron user, it would be your job to mark down every show that you watched, how long you watched it and who watched it with you.

You have to volunteer to join one of these “families” and even then, they may not take you.

I’m sure there are other ways that the ratings services monitior what you are watching, such as cable boxes and tivo. There’s very little total privacy in the world anymore.

Nonia

January 19th, 2012
3:32 pm

Why is this a suprise?
I was done with AI back when Paula Adul told a singer that she liked his first song but didn’t care for his second song when he hadn’t even sung the second song yet.
Almost every winner aside from Carrie Underwood have struggled to keep their record contracts or stay out of trouble long enough to avoid being viewed negatively through the media.
In the dog eat dog world of recording artist and the recording labels, it is easier for people to download the music free so the artist has to exeptional for the common person to pay to see them in concert which is where the money is. Now we have X-Factor, So you think you have talent and the Sing-Off…..enough is enough!!!! I’d rather watch movies and sports than follow a show that seems to go on and on and on for most of the year, voting off people who really can sing and keep the ones that are just mediocre.

Deirdre

January 19th, 2012
3:34 pm

As an ardent American Idol hater, I can’t wait for this crap to be canceled

Really? If you don’t like the show, why would you care one way or the other? Are you saying that you are personally offended because it is still on the air? Cuz that’s pretty silly, don’t you think? If you don’t like it you don’t have to watch it. No skin off your back.

Jenny

January 19th, 2012
3:34 pm

Interesting. I have always wondered if DVR-recorded programs count towards the ratings? It seems like they should. It is rare that I watch anything “live” any more…