Survey: Majority Reject 'American Idol' Wannabes

After a summer of banal performances from a slew of "American Idol" wannabes, it's no surprise that viewers are fed up. A new survey shows that half of all Americans want relief. But a bigger surprise may be that only half expressed exasperation.

The survey, commissioned by consumer-electronics retailer Circuit City as a PR tactic to demonstrate Americans' interest in purchasing next-generation TV sets, also delved into content preferences. Among the findings from the 2,300 parents surveyed: 52 percent said "enough already, give me a break" regarding reality TV, and 49 percent echoed the same about prime-time talent bakeoffs.

The survey was conducted Aug. 9-13 as the summer onslaught of talent competitions wound down. The parade included Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance"; NBC's "America's Got Talent"; CBS' "Rock Star"; NBC's "Last Comic Standing"; and ABC's "The One." NBC also tried to take the format to the Web with "StarTomorrow."

"What went wrong?" USA Today asked. "For one thing, as ABC learned to its ratings horror with 'The One,' it's never a good idea to come late to a trend, particularly when that trend has produced America's most popular show. Viewers clearly weren't ready after 'Idol' to jump back into a hunt for the next rock star, or comic--or whatever it was 'America's Got Talent' was supposed to find."

Fox's "Dance" performed best--but its ratings would barely place it in the top 40 during the regular season in the 18-to-49 demo. ABC's "The One" was canceled after only four airings.

Still, in the copycat business of television, networks aren't going light on the gas in their "Idol" quest. And as producers go, Simon Cowell may be as coveted as Aaron Spelling once was. "Celebrity Duets" premieres on Fox tonight, although it may benefit from a format that resembles ABC's hit from the summer of 2005, "Dancing with the Stars."

Per the Circuit City survey, if only half of Americans are fed up with amateur talent showcases, then networks still have some 150 million people to appeal to.

Other results from the survey, conducted via the Internet by Decision Analyst, Inc.: 51 percent of parents want more family-friendly programming in prime time, while 37 percent of dads want more prime-time sports, versus only 10 percent of women.

The main focus of Circuit City's study--generating buzz for selling advanced technology televisions--yields positive results for the company. The findings showed that Americans are beginning to take an interest in HD sets in large numbers. Of the 34 percent who plan to buy a new TV in the next year, all want an advanced tech set, such as an HD or flat panel. None plan to purchase a traditional "tube TV."

Still, desire is limited by finance, and the survey showed that "price remains the dominant factor" in deciding which TVs to buy.