Fox’s onetime ratings juggernaut "American Idol" had what at least one report suggests might be its "worst week ever." TheWrap.com reports that Fox’s “big revenue generator is showing signs of distress.”
First, there was the story that "Idol" producers had plotted to replace judge Mariah Carey and bring back former judge Jennifer Lopez. As previously reported, that plan may have been thwarted by Carey’s threat of litigation.
Next, NBC’s "The Voice" this week beat "Idol" in the 18-49 demographic for the first time, as well as in total viewers, TheWrap notes.
The ratings slide means that Fox can’t charge as much as it once did for ads in the program. This season, the show’s 12th, it’s charging $340,000 for a 30-second spot, down from $500,000 in the previous season.
Said Brad Adgate of media-buying firm Horizon Media: "The falloff has really been the last two years. You have to look at what’s happened since then with the competition and the audience fatigue and the judges and the number of choices out there."
The report adds: “At its height in 2006, the show was attracting about 30 million viewers an episode. Compare that number to last week’s results episode, which brought in 11.9 million total viewers and was beat in the key 18-49 demo by repeats of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ — yes, reruns.”
“Idol” is averaging 17.9 million total viewers this season, down from 21.9 million in season 11.
“On the financial side, ‘Idol’ has been and still is Fox’s major breadwinner. Even with its declining ratings, the show brought in $836.4 million in ad revenue last year – more than $100 million more than 2011′s take, according to Kantar Media,” the piece reports.
With May sweeps coming up, Fox has added reason to be nervous.
The “Idol” decline, says Adgate, “puts pressure on them to come up with other hit shows, something that’s going to pick up the slack, to remain competitive. They have relied on that show year in and year out. When fourth quarter would come to an end, they were fourth place for many seasons in adults 18-49. And then ‘American Idol’ would start and within a month or so they were tops in 18-49. Those days appear to be over.”