‘American Idol’ To Call It Quits

Posted May 11, 2015 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

The water in Fox’s talent pool show is expected to dry up in 2016

It looks like it is the end of an era for American Idol. The long-running television show — a super-sized talent showcase that once was a ratings’ giant for Fox — will be pulling the plug on its 15th season, slated to air in January.

According to sources, the number of episodes for the final season will be cut back. Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick, Jr., and Keith Urban will return as the show’s judges and will crown hopefully its last winner.

Those who worshipped the Idol machine will have a hard time digesting the news, but HiFi has been predicting its demise and eventual fall for the last few years. The ratings’ crash over the last few seasons has been its biggest hemorrhage, particularly compared with the 38 million that tunes in to see Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken duke it out in season two. The show is struggling to pull in its current 9 million viewers, especially in a time when other talent-based shows like The Voice are performing better with the 18-49 age demographic.

Also hurting the brand of Idol is its terrible failure of producing megastars, something the show took great pride in emphasizing to advertisers in its heyday. In latter seasons, its lion share of winners have failed to make any traction in the music world. There hasn’t been a winner or finalist from the show that has reached the colossal notoriety as season four winner Carrie Underwood, who has risen to the top of the country and pop charts. Its recent set of winners — Caleb Johnson (season 13), Candice Glover (season 12), Lee DeWyze (season 9) — have all struggled to pull off a decent numbers in record sales. Change of judges (even bringing in big names like Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj) , producers and formats have also produced very little momentum.

Since the fall of Idol’s ratings, Fox has been struggling very hard to maintain its relevance. Despite pulling off television’s biggest premier drama Empire, it continues to rank number four in the networks, trailing behind CBS, ABC and now NBC. This also affects the company’s stock. According to Forbes.com, the company’s stock is down a 51 percent decline in EBITDA. The company also saw a major drop in revenues, down 22 percent. Advertising is suffering, declining 31 percent since the Super Bowl telecast. “The only scripted show that has been successful for Fox this season is Empire, who has seen massive viewership growth since its premiere episode in January,” wrote Forbes. “Fox currently stands at the fourth spot with 6 million total viewers. This compares with CBS’ 11.4 million and NBC’s 8.8 million viewers.”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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