The ratings are in for last night’s American Idol finale and they are not good. With 10.1 million viewers, it was the lowest rated finale ever for the singing competition, including that first season that saw Justin Guarini lose out to Kelly Clarkson.
That’s bad. That’s really bad.
This was a show that held the number one spot in the Nielsen ratings every year from 2003 to 2011. This was a show that once regularly was seen by more than 35 million viewers. This is a show that could at one time generate nearly $1 billion in ad revenue a year.
The show that could once attract nearly anyone to perform in its finale had to settle for the likes of Richard Marx and Jason Mraz last night.
In fact, the American Idol finale was seen last night by fewer people than the Modern Family finale. AI is no longer the number one show on television (in fact, last week, it was number 15), it’s not even the number one show in its time-slot. It’s completely unraveled.
Of course, it’s not dead yet. Despite the fact that it seems to reformulate the judges’ panel every season, and introduce new elements into the competition, it’s ratings continue to dwindle, so it’s only a matter of time. There may be one or two seasons left before it sputters into oblivion, but American Idol is on its way out.
It’s not that much better for The Voice, which hit a series low two weeks ago, and shed 25 percent of its viewership from last Spring to this Spring’s finale. It was seen by more viewers than American Idol, but it’s 11 million viewers is down from the 15 million viewers who saw last year’s finale.
These singing competitions — American Idol, The X-Factor, The Voice, plus the basic cable iterations — basically cannibalized each other and singer competition fatigue set in. When’s the last time one of these winners mattered? The stakes are gone. The viewers are gone. Soon, so will the singing shows, and the networks can get back to doing what they do best: Churning out generic scripted programming that they’ll cancel after 13 episodes.