Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX Photo: American Idol 2013 Top 4

American Idol ratings for Thursday night's Top 4 results show scored the lowest ever in the adults 18-49 category for a regularly scheduled episode of the show. And when we say lowest ever, we mean since American Idol premiered in 2001. Ouch!

The former previous low for American Idol ratings also came during this highly criticized season, when the show scored a sad 2.8 rating on the March 28th episode. This newest all-time low comes amidst a week when many are already contemplating the future of the long-running show, if there is even a future to consider.

Many see the producers as desperately pulling the strings in an effort to raise American Idol ratings, including the report that broke this week that they tried to replace Mariah Carey mid-season with former judge Jennifer Lopez. While the PR folks at FOX are saying this is just one more crazy rumor, TV viewers are obviously not buying what they’re selling.

We do have to say, however, that although baseball is referred to as America’s favorite pastime, there’s no denying we also love our football. And each year during the first found of the NFL draft (and the NBA playoffs), the ratings for networks other than ESPN are pretty abysmal across the board. So the low American Idol ratings this week were probably damaged by that a bit.

Even CBS’ usual ratings juggernaut, The Big Bang Theory, was off 15 percent in adults 18-49 in comparison to its last episode. Despite the dip for the hit CBS sitcom, Rickey.org notes that it was still the most watched show of the night. Hannibal scored a series low for NBC, and the much-hyped The Originals (The Vampire Diaries spinoff) didn’t raise CW’s normally low ratings at all. The only show to see any movement was ABC’s Scandal, which was coming off a three-week hiatus to match its series high in adults 18-49.

While TV took a giant hit in ratings overall, it was American Idol that came across looking nearly pathetic. Despite a teased twist at the end of its Wednesday night performance show, American Idol was down 7 percent in both adults 18-49 as well as viewership from last week’s numbers. It was also down 10 percent from April 18’s final numbers.

In the end, CBS won the night (as they usually do on Thursdays) with 11.9 million viewers and a 7.5 rating/12 share. FOX was a fairly distant second with 8.2 million viewers and a 5.0 rating/8 share. Despite the popularity of Scandal, ABC came in third with 6.4 million viewers and a 4.4 rating/7 share. NBC was fourth with 2.45 million viewers and a 1.7 rating/3 share, while the CW came in last with 1.7 million viewers and 1.2 rating/2 share.

We shared what we think Idol can do to restore itself to monster ratings. What do you think the show could do to improve for next year?

Sources: Zap2it.com, deadline.com, Rickey.org