American Idol Ratings Show Long, Steep Decline, Aging Viewers
American Idol ratings were like a snowball rolling downhill all throughout Season 12, so it’s interesting to look back on the show’s overall ratings in the wake of one of its worst seasons yet.
Brad Adgate of Horizon Media sent journalists a database with stats about Nielsen ratings for every single episode of American Idol – that’s 480 episodes, to be exact!
Season 12 was the second-worst season in overall ratings and the worst for the ideal demographic for advertisers, that of adults 18-49. The show drew an average of 13.3 million viewers.
The most popular season was Season 5 in 2006 (when yours truly began working for americanidol.com, thank you very much). The average viewership for that season was 30.26 million viewers which will probably be impossible for any show to ever reach again, even if DVR usage is counted.
Although the long-running show hasn’t lost many viewers in the 55 years and older crowd (there has only been a 13 percent drop since 2006), the show had a 71 percent fall in the 18-49 category this year! The show execs are surely looking at that number the most, as that is the sweet spot when it comes to advertising cash. Although, in all fairness to FOX, the show still draws its extremely faithful clients, year after year, like Coca Cola and Ford.
The data also took a look at the last time American Idol aired a 30-minute results show, as opposed to the fluff-filled one-hour shows that many dread these days. It was back in Season 6, and it happened four times. The season with the most episodes with was Season 3 with 47 shows, while the fewest was the 2002 summer season, which aired 25. Interestingly enough, the most viewed episode ever dates back to the Ruben Studdard/Clay Aiken finale in 2003, which drew 38 million viewers! Claymates are nothing if not loyal.
What do you think American Idol could do to get back to its Season 5 ratings, or is that even possible?