'American Idol' Returns: Still Big With Viewers, While Fox Looks Long-Term

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.

2 comments about "'American Idol' Returns: Still Big With Viewers, While Fox Looks Long-Term ".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, January 21, 2011 at 12:55 p.m.

    I agree. The show is an aging property but it still kicks butt. Opinions are subjective, but my wife and I liked Tyler and Lopez and even Randy wasn't nearly as predictable as last year. People watch for the contestants and hope the judges add something, which they seem to be doing. The heart-tugging backstories are getting more cloying with each year, but it's still fun to hear contestants with great voices. Not once this week did I think "I miss Simon" (and I was a fan of his rude style). We will keep watching, but it's sad to see the broadcast pie continue to erode.

  2. Chuck Lantz from, network, January 21, 2011 at 4:53 p.m.

    Good points. I enjoyed the new panel, especially the much more positive and professional dynamic brought by Tyler and Lopez.

    The fact that they are both knowledgeable and successful singers is a bonus on two levels. Their criticisms are more meaningful and encouraging, and Randy Jackson has apparently backed-off his "I'm so cool" stance now that he's sitting next to two very real and very current singing talents, instead of comics, one-hit-wonders, borderline choreographers and once-in-a-great-while producers.

    Kinda different playing the lovable jackass roll while sharing a table with people who would otherwise be hiring and firing you, ain't it?

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