Viewers no longer worship 'American Idol'

Ratings for the singing competition are at a decade low. Even 'Duck Dynasty' is pulling in a larger audience in TV's most-sought after demographic.

By Jonathan Berr Mar 5, 2013 8:33AM
American Idol judges speak onstage during the 2013 Winter TCA Tour at Langham Hotel on January 8, 2013 in Pasadena, Calif. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
 "American Idol," the singing competition that introduced the world to Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson and Clay Aiken among others, is running out of gas.

Ratings for the onetime must-see show on News Corp.'s (NWS) Fox network recently hit a decade low, according to Advertising Age. Its numbers have been on the decline for years, which isn't surprising given the show's longevity. But one recent broadcast drew just 13.1 million viewers, the fewest since August 2002, Ad Age notes, citing Nielsen data. 

Not only has ABC's "Modern Family" and CBS'  (CBS) "Big Bang Theory" bested it among viewers 18 to 49 -- the demographic that advertisers most covet -- but as Vote for the Worst recently pointed out, so has "Duck Dynasty," a show chronicling the adventures of millionaire hillbillies who own a duck-call business. What makes this noteworthy is that the program is on A&E, a cable channel.

Vote for the Worst gained notoriety for encouraging its readers to vote for the worst contestants competing on the Fox show. "No one cares about ["American Idol"] anymore except fat old Southern housewives," an unidentified person wrote to Vote for the Worst. "That's Idol's new key demographic now. I don't think it can be saved."

Other commentators have also noted how far the program has fallen even amid the reported feud between judges Nicki Manaj and Mariah Carey. A spokesperson for Fox couldn't immediately be reached.

"Showrunners feared having to compete against the program that insiders called 'The Death Star,'" said Entertainment Weekly last week. "Nowadays, that’s no space station. Idol is just another moon in the orbit of primetime, minding its own business, not causing much trouble."

The show still attracts huge audiences, and its staying power is remarkable. But the program's troubles may have financial ramifications. Most TV advertising is sold in advance and is priced based on the show's anticipated audience. If the ratings fall short of these expectations, advertisers are due what's known as make-goods, essentially free commercial time.

That could be bad news for shares of News Corp., recently just under $30, which have surged about 16% this year.

--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

More on moneyNOW

Mar 5, 2013 4:20PM

when they started making the show more about lame judges (the 2 idiot girls) that are on the show this year, they seem to think that this is entertaining get back to having the singers sing and tell the judges to just shut up you would see more people tuning in the people can't stand the judges

at least when Simon was a judge he told them when they suck now you just cater to them so the judges get more airtime that is so stupid

Mar 5, 2013 9:02AM
Swamp People is more entertaining than Idol. At least it's characters have some decent family values. Now if they could just get rid of all these karaoke contests and put some real programming on prime time.
Mar 5, 2013 11:07AM
Duck Dynasty is clean, family programming, and is funny. The whole family watches it together. 
Mar 5, 2013 11:06AM
We watch Idol and Voice. The girls on Idol are far superior to the men, in my opinion.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?


[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market began the new trading week on the defensive note with small-cap stocks pacing the retreat. The Russell 2000 (-1.4%) and Nasdaq Composite (-1.1%) displayed relative weakness, while the S&P 500 lost 0.8% with all ten sectors ending in the red.

Global equities began showing some cracks overnight after China's Finance Minister Lou Jiwei poured cold water on hopes for new stimulus measures. Specifically, Mr. Lou said the government has no plans to change ... More