'American Idol' gets sorry ratings for season finale

Even with the reality talent show's never-ending backstage drama, fans just seem to be losing interest, giving Fox a big problem.

By Jonathan Berr May 17, 2013 3:18PM
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)Did you catch this week's season finale of "American Idol"? Well, if you didn't watch the big climax to the Fox network's singing competition, you had plenty of company.

Fans just seem to be losing interest in the show despite the never-ending backstage drama. And that's bad news for Fox parent News Corp. (NWS), whose earnings have been hurt by the show's weak ratings.

As The Hollywood Reporter and other outlets have noted, Thursday's conclusion of season 12, with Candice Glover crowned the winner of the singing competition, averaged just a 3.4 rating among viewers ages 18-49, the demographic most targeted by advertisers. That's a 47% drop from last year's final show. In terms of total viewers, a 3.4 rating equals 13.6 million, down from 21.5 million a season ago. This is also the first time that the "Idol" season finale hasn't been seen by at least 20 million viewers.

To make matters worse,  CBS' (CBS) "The Big Bang Theory" crushed "Idol" when the shows went head to head. The sitcom attracted 14.78 million viewers between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. versus the reality show's 13.61 million, according to TVbytheNumbers. Other shows such as ABC's "Modern Family" have attracted bigger audiences as well during the season.

According to the site Vote for the Worst, which is closing down after mocking "Idol" for the past decade, the show has reached a new low in terms of quality. It notes that Glover "was not good enough to even make the voting rounds the past 2 seasons" and goes on to claim that the season was "highly manipulated to produce a female winner."

What viewers seem to be remembering most from the season finale wasn't Glover but judge Mariah Carey, who apparently was lip-syncing to a medley of her hits. The diva had plenty of dust-ups with fellow judge Nicki Minaj, who has said she won't be returning, as has Randy Jackson, the last of the original judges. Rumors have it that Carey and country superstar Keith Urban won't be returning either.

News Corp. president Chase Carey recently told analysts the company is "clearly disappointed with season's ratings at the Fox broadcast network and is taking steps now to improve next season's lineup." But getting viewers to worship "Idol" again like they did in its glory days won't be easy.

Unfortunately for Fox, replacing the show may not be a viable option, because that might cause the network's ratings to tumble even further. And that wouldn't please the media company's shareholders.

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

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6Comments
May 17, 2013 7:11PM
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You have to Know when to start something, and end something. I watched it for three seasons. After that I went on to something else. How can Nikki Minaj rate a singer when she can't sing. Hello!. She's  a profanity rapper, not a singer.

May 17, 2013 6:39PM
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The show has gotten worse every year since it's been on. Poor singers, worse judges, all the extra drama with Jimmy and Ryan Seacrest too. It's not really a talent show, just a popularity contest. Everyone should have one vote only, then it would mean something.
May 18, 2013 4:19AM
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This show is 5 yrs past its time .....
May 17, 2013 4:20PM
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I use to love American Idol but I kinda stop watching it untl they almost at the top 10 finalist... I really didnt want to watch after seeing that Mariah Carey & Nikki Minaj beef on idol and let the entire world see them. I think it was a good idea for all the judges to be replaced anyway.... American idol suppose to be a family show but first in history 2 judges beefed and did not respect one personal opinion.....Sooooooo pooooof BE GONE I SAY! 

May 20, 2013 9:46AM
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Two words for the failure; Nicki Minaj !
May 17, 2013 5:10PM
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That's what happens when they pick a loser from the start,They had the worst judges,and the VOICE has so much better  singers. I lost interest when I knew from the start  who was going to win!!!!!
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