American Idol was once the television’s powerhouse. It was a show that held the No. 1 spot in the Nielsen ratings every year from 2003 to 2011. For a long stretch, it was a show seen regularly by 35 million viewers, and could generate nearly $1 billion in ad revenue a year.
Although the season started modestly — with around 11 million viewers per episode through the audition rounds — it’s tanked in recent weeks, especially after Empire ended its run.
The most recent episode managed a meager 7 million viewers and worse, a 1.4 in the 18-49 demo. That was lower than the finale for the perpetually low-rated Parks and Recreation (1.6). On Wednesday night alone, it got beat in the demo by The Goldbergs (2.1), The Middle (1.9), Survivor (2.2), the dreadful CSI: Cyber (1.5) and even a rerun of Modern Family (1.8). Fresh Off the Boat, which is in danger of cancellation, scored a 1.5 in the demo.
Hell, Family Guy reruns on Adult Swim at 11 p.m. (1.2) are nearly outpacing American Idol‘s ratings in the demo. Remember Lone Star, the highly-touted, critically beloved James Wolk series that was cancelled by Fox after only two episodes? It scored a 1.6 in the demo.
That’s how far American Idol has fallen. Meanwhile, The Voice — though its ratings have also fallen precipitously — is still banking a 2.5 in the demo.
The one saving grace for American Idol is that Fox is the new NBC, which is to say, the ratings are in the toilet overall. American Idol ratings may be miserable, but they’re not as miserable as some other shows that Fox is keeping around. New Girl, for instance, has already been renewed for another season, even though overnight ratings for the last episode were only 2.1 million and a .9 in the demo.
That means American Idol will probably stick around for one more season, but who would know? A contestant this week rushed the judge’s table, and he and Harry Connick, Jr. got into a heated argument. A few years ago, that would be a hugely viral video. Now? Nobody cares.