Credit: Michael Becker/©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co.

We watched American Idol suffer a ratings free fall last season and, although it was painful, we never doubted the show would return for another season. Why? Because Idol has always been an advertising cash cow, even with a decline in viewers. Now, however, 21st Century Fox President Chase Carey says the show is “winding down” and in a “transition period.”

Chase recently spoke with reporters during a conference call detailing the company’s latest quarterly results and, during the chat, said Idol’s ratings “have fallen faster than we had hoped,” as reported by Digital Spy.

According to DS, when the current season launched in January, it drew 15.2 million viewers and a 18-49 demo of 4.7. That’s in sharp contrast to the days when Idol was a ratings juggernaut, dominating anything and everything. In fact, in 2006, the show’s finale drew an astounding 36 million viewers.

Frankly, we’re a bit surprised at Chase’s news, as the show feels like it’s been given a new dose of energy with the format changes and (somewhat) new judges. Harry Connick, Jr. has helped make the show enjoyable again and the focus on serious talent rather than silly auditions has provided the series a fresher outlook.

So does what Chase mentioned mean FOX is canceling Idol as they just did with X Factor? Not necessarily, according to the DS article. Instead, the powers that be are reportedly planning a Season 14 of Idol but reducing its size and cost.

Somehow we can’t quite picture a smaller version of the entertainment extravaganza known as American Idol. What, will the judges be Corey Clark, William Hung, and Paula Abdul’s dog? Will they trade in TV host extraordinaire Ryan Seacrest for Brian Dunkleman? Shivers.

What do you think of Idol returning but smaller in scope? Think its day has passed? Sound off in the comments!

Source: Digital Spy