Atlanta Is the Ratings Judge for 'American Idol,' As Fox Plays Down Success
For the 2003-04 broadcast season, "American Idol" on Tuesdays tied as the No. 1 most-viewed show, with 25.7 million average viewers, and was the second-highest-rated program with a 14.9 percent rating, VNU's Nielsen said. "American Idol" on Wednesday was the third-most-viewed program and third-highest-rated program, with 24.3 million viewers on average and an average rating of 14.1 percent.
And during the 2002-03 broadcast season, "American Idol" on Wednesday was the third-most-viewed program and sixth-highest-rated program, with 21.9 million viewers on average and a 14.1 percent rating. "American Idol" on Tuesday was No. 5 among viewers (21.6 million viewers) and ratings (12.6 percent), according to Nielsen's analysis.
Meanwhile, Fox Broadcasting head Gail Berman sought to play down the question of whether or not "American Idol" can still hit high notes, as she spoke before the Television Critics Association.
"We can expect to see some declines," Berman said. "I think that's only natural for a fourth-year show."
But when it comes to judging the show, the residents of Atlanta are more Paula Abdul than Simon Cowell. For the past three premieres of the "American Idol" season, the highest average ratings for the premiere have come from the Atlanta designated market area. The Atlanta market has finished as the number one market for each premiere of the show, with an average rating of 26.4 percent. The other top "Idol" markets include Washington D.C., Milwaukee, Memphis, and Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem, N.C. The 2004 winner, Fantasia Barrino, is from High Point, N.C. The 2003 winner, Ruben Studdard, is from Birmingham, N.C., and runner-up Clay Aiken is from Raleigh, N.C. The first season's winner, Kelly Clarkson, is from Burleson, Texas.
Ad expenditures have increased more than 290 percent since the show first aired in the summer of 2002. The average cost per 30-second spot has increased by more than a 110 percent. The top advertiser for all three seasons so far has been the Ford Motor Company, spending more than $60 million dollars in total. Coca-Cola--a very important Atlanta resident--was the second-highest advertiser last season, spending more than $9 million.
Official sponsors of the show in 2004 and 2003 were Ford Motor Company, Coca-Cola, AT&T Wireless, Old Navy, Clairol Herbal Essences, and Subway Restaurants.
And when it came to product placement, for the 2004 season, Coca-Cola products dominated the show with the most total branded occurrences, according to Nielsen Product Placement. The top Coca-Cola products included regular Coke with the top branded occurrences overall, Vanilla Coke (3rd), and C2 (5th). AT&T Wireless received the second-most branded occurrences, and Ford Autos & Trucks was fourth.
During the 2004 season of "American Idol," Coca-Cola was the top-overall sponsor to receive the most branded occurrences, with more than 2000 total branded occurrences. AT&T Wireless was second, with more than 340 total branded occurrences--followed by Ford, with more than 120.