We’re only a couple hours away from the start of another “American Idol” season — and a few more hours from finding out how the revamped show performed in the ratings.
The show suffered ratings declines in 2010 — for the year as a whole, it was off about 9 percent in viewers and 10 percent in the adults 18-49 demographic. Some episodes during the top 12 weeks, however, drew some of the lowest ratings the shows had received since its first year, which led to a flurry of “Is ‘Idol’s’ dominance finally over?” stories.
The short answer to that question, at least at the time, was not really: “Idol” was still the most-watched show on TV by a wide margin last year, and its declines were both what you might expect from a show in its ninth season and in line with the previous year’s decline. Ratings for “American Idol” peaked in 2006 (the Taylor Hicks-Katharine McPhee-Chris Daughtry season) and have been on the (relative) wane ever since, but it’s been the No. 1 show on TV every season since then.
Now, though? It’s a better question. “Idol” will almost certainly still attract big ratings, but with a pair of new judges in Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, several changes to the actual competition and a different schedule, predicting how big involves a little more guesswork than usual.
Our friends at TV by the Numbers note that “Idol” is in danger of losing its 18-49 crown already, thanks to the best year yet for “Sunday Night Football.” NBC’s NFL coverage averaged an 8.1 rating among adults 18-49 this season, and if “Idol’s” demos dip by 10 or 15 percent more this year, “SNF” could end up as No. 1 for the season.
As for Wednesday night’s (Jan. 19) premiere, we’re expecting it to be down a little — but not much — from the 29.8 million viewers and 11.7 demo rating that last season’s debut drew. Curiosity about the new judges should drive eyeballs to the show, but after that your guess is as good as ours.
How do you think “Idol” will do in the ratings this season?