The first episode of "American Idol" is down a lot, ratings-wise. Does that change anything? For Fox, not really, especially looking at the bigger picture going into next season.
Even with a 9.7 rating among 18-49 viewers for the show's season premiere -- down 18% from season nine's 11.8 premiere number -- the ratings for "Idol" are virtually twice that of other top network TV shows. "Idol" was also down 13% in total viewers -- but with a still-big figure of 26.1 million.
The bottom line is, these figures still may give Fox what it needs to 1) probably win the season again in 18-49 viewers; and 2) have another booming upfront advertising sales period.
With all other network TV shows averaging just south of a three rating, Fox can be comforted that the delta -- the ratings points between "Idol" numbers and the next best-rated show -- is still big. That may be a key selling point for next year's advertisers.
"Idol"'s new schedule -- Wednesday-Thursday airings versus its long-time previous Tuesday-Wednesday format -- has it competing with different shows in its tenth season. On Wednesday, ABC's "Modern Family" at 9 p.m., running against a two-hour "Idol," didn't get hurt too much. "Family" still got a very decent 4.6 rating among 18-49ers.
This may play out much the same way on Thursday, where "Idol"'s results show will go head to head with another solid sitcom, CBS' "Big Bang Theory." While it could seem a big deal for both shows, Fox and CBS executives believe there might be little damage for either "Idol" or "Bang" because they have somewhat different audiences.
The fact that "Idol" ratings were down isn't much of a surprise. It's a 10-year-old show, with some major cast changes like Simon Cowell's departure, and more competition from other TV shows in the reality entertainment-contest genre.
But that's not the end of the story for Cowell and Fox: He'll be back on the network in the fall as a judge on his new highly touted "X Factor" show. Fox will still have its cake and eat it, too. Two cakes, actually.