'American Idol' finale down slightly from last year; 'Dancing' climbs


Image Credit: Michael Becker/Fox

Fox’s American Idol performance finale was down slightly in the ratings from last year’s all-time low.

Tuesday’s episode delivered 20 million viewers and a 6.2 preliminary adults 18-49 rating, down 7 percent from last season’s final performance show. The performance isn’t unexpected given that Idol has been tracking slightly below 2010’s run all season, itself an accomplishment given the age of the show and all the changes to the judging panel.

Still, last night marked the lowest rating ever for a performance finale of American Idol. Last year had a 6.7 demo rating, 2009 an 8.6 and 2008 was at 10.1.

The Glee finale was strong, earning 12.1 million viewers and a hearty 4.6 rating — the most-watched episode since Week 2 of the season (excluding the post-Super Bowl episode).

Both managed to edge out ABC’s Dancing With the Stars results show (20.9 million, 4.5) — in the demo, at least. Among total viewers, Dancing drew a slightly larger audience than American Idol, marking the first time a Dancing finale has outdrawn an Idol finale in viewers. In fact, in contrast to Idol, this is Dancing‘s most-watched season ever and its finale was up a whopping 15 percent from last year.

That left Tuesday’s most recent noisemaker, NBC’s The Voice (8.5 million, 3.8) squeaking to be heard at 10 p.m. The show fell 16 percent from last week to a new low. Biggest Loser (3.1) seems like it’s indeed ready for new coaches — the show is down 21 percent from last year for its lowest-rated finale ever.

UPDATE: American Idol‘s Wednesday results show ratings are now in! (And they’re not what you might expect)

Ratings wrap: How every broadcast show ranked this season
American Idol season finale recap

Did Lauren Alaina almost drop out of the American Idol finale? Her music coach gives EW the scoop


Comments (168 total) Add your comment
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  • Tego Livi

    The real accomplishment isn’t the fact that the Judges changed or the age of the show–it’s that the ratings stayed close despite the show moving to a new night.

    • Martin

      I know people are set in their way and turn to their familiar TV shows, but the most exciting thing on television last night was “The Voice”….. now that everyone else’s season finales are out of the way, watch “The Voice” shine next week, and all through June.

      • Jerome

        If it was the most exciting thing on TV last night, how come nobody watched it? A rerun of NCIS had more viewers.

      • B.Rich

        The same people who are watching NCIS are the ones who gave of that garbage Idol finale last night. Thanks guys!

      • Andrew

        I like The Voice and I do think it will grow stronger now that the other shows are on hiatus but I think DWTS may have been a bit more exciting. Though it continues(in my eyes)to be leagues ahead of AI.

      • Annia

        THE VOICE was good last night, but I thought it was a weird combo from Blake’s group. Each female was good in her own right, but put them together, it was weird. Blake gave an advice to the free-spirit church singer, but she heeds not his advice, and I could see that he was PO, so he picked the other one instead. Ouch!!!

      • Dominic

        Hopefully The Voice will pick up viewers desperate for their vocal comp fix. It deserves a better audience.

      • roby

        The voice is the worst thing on Tv. Horrible. This was the best Idol year yet.

      • Tom

        The voice exciting! The battle rounds are BORING! Can’t wait for them to go live!

      • Bella

        That’s because NCIS is a good show. The Voice is just another singing show and the judges are awful.

    • wakeforce

      I feel vindicated! This finale is the lowest-rated finale EVER!

      • Jane Bratcher

        I have never been more disappointed in American Idol. Cassie and Pia should have been standing there. One vote per person. No more votes for kids who don’t know talent. Cassie, James, Pia and Haley were better. I kept thinking surely they want weed out the top of the crop…wow they actually did!

      • Annia

        @Jane Bratcher. Who is Cassie? You mean Casey? Yeah, he was much more interesting than these two finalists last night. I didn’t watch the show, but I didn’t feel so bad that I missed it either. THE VOICE & DWTS kept me entertained.

      • yoga girl

        Totally agree with Jane…they weeded out the best talent on Idol. Neither one of the two left standing can hold a candle to Cassie, James, Pia or Haley! What a disappointment…I didnt watch after Haley left.

      • zombie

        guys, it’s *CASEY*!

      • Dan

        I think its declining because the best person never winds. Why are these two country singers in the finals? Its turning into a joke.

      • Dominic

        Cassie was my absolute fave this year. I hate that she got voted out. I liked all the girls this year but Cassie was easily the best of them. I hope Cassie has a really long career – she deserves it!

      • anon

        “One vote per person. No more votes for kids who don’t know talent (or Intelligence).” – That’s the same thing I’ve been saying since the 2008 Presidential Election….

      • Tom

        Still over 20 million people, the voice will never get that!

      • Zakry

        >>they weeded out the best talent on Idol.<<

        Who is "they"? America chose these two. I agree, I have never been more disinterested in an Idol finale. But, there is no conspiracy here. America voted and this is how it turned out.

        Maybe America will start voting on talent and not sympathy (Lauren) or hormones (Scotty). Lesson learned?

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  • julia

    didnt even know the finale performance show was on last nite thought itd be tonite bc every other show has been on wednesday oh well

    • Jethro

      I too didn’t know it was on last night, opposite DWTS, finale, kind of foolish since both shows are 1 & 2 in the ratings and then throw in Glee, didn’t know that show was on from 9-10, until I put TV on at 8:40pm, est.

      • Deb

        Well no worries Jethro. *you didn’t miss a thing*…!

    • Aunt Sassy

      Well, maybe you should pay attention – it was noted during last weeks show and every news program was talking about it all day long yesterday. Better yet – set your DVR to record it – it knows about the day change.

      • Jethro

        Thanks Aunt Sassy, but as Deb said, I didn’t miss anything. I am not home all day to listen for these things, I work full time during the day.

      • Tom

        It depends on you, I think you missed the greatest finale ever, agree with the DVR.

  • GS

    The performance finale was last night. The actual last show, crown the winner, everyone comes back to sing finale is tonight.

  • ST

    I think the fact that they switched the finale to Tues/Wed from Wed/Thurs might also be part of the reason ratings are down. It was up against DWTS and The Biggest Loser so it might have gotten somewhat lost in the shuffle.

    • bobby v

      Might be that last night was Country Idol.

  • craig

    And what would Glee have gotten without that mammoth IDOL lead in? COnsidering it was 8 million and a 3.7 last week, I’m thinking closer to that. FOX execs will probably be issuing BS about how great it is. But it’s been getting 3’s since March. IF it didn’t follow IDOL last night it would have not been a 4.6 and no where near 12 million

  • yawn

    Wow, really? Who would have guessed it?

  • RM

    It was sort of boring. The vote count should be higher than last week since the lines were open for twice as long. We’ll have to see how the concert sells and whether Lee will have the lowest selling debut from a winner.

  • Andrew

    Everything was on last night. I don’t think my viewing habits will even be able to be read to be honest. I was switching back and forth all night.

  • Kate

    Not surprised. From what I hear, this was the most boring finale ever.

  • Jethro

    I have come to accept that AI is nothing more than a singing competition. Does it really matter is the winner or runner-ups even put out a CD, and whether it sells or not. From Januaary-May, everyone is treated to some fun and entertainment and if we are lucky, we get some decent singing every week.

    If these competitors thinks they will have a long career, it will not happen.

    Just sit back and enjoy the shows, The X Factor, SYTYCD, AGT, who really cares who wins, it’s fun entertainment that everyone can enjoy!

    • Van Helsing

      Its a singing competition? Last time i checked it was a kiss ass to America competition. If it was a singing competition then better singers would have made it to the end.

    • Steve

      @Jethro, You hit it on the nail, yes a few of my favorites went out, Pia, James, Casey, But I don’t vote nor do I get upset like it’s the end of the world like some people here. It’s quality time I spend with my wife, we like the voice as well, AGT, and looking foward to Simon and Xfactor. We thought the new revamped AI is allot better, You could try to cap the voting, but my guest it will never really satisfy everyone, as soon as someone’s favorite leaves they will be crying again. My two cents.

  • Jennifer

    Last night’s AI ratings drop doesn’t surprise me considering that the last of the interesting contestants left before the final.

    • Bloodyscot

      I was watching for Haley, James and Casey, anyone of them in the finale would have been great.

      • Sara

        Agreed! I flipped back to watch the recap when they give the numbers again, and every performance just blended together. They are the most vanilla people ever to be on Idol. Haley, Casey, and even James were all much to good to be on this awful show.

      • Lisa

        After James and Haley got voted off, aspecially Haley. And I saw it would become a country finale (not that I am not a country fan). I just lost interest because Haley brought so much enthusiam to the show just like James did, I figured it would be a boring evening. SO I refrained from watching lact nigth. Apparently Scotty is the winner!

      • bobby v

        I would have watched if there were any chance that we would hear something other than country music. First time I have watched every episode of a series and bailed on the finale.

  • Colleen

    They will still say they got a record bazillion votes from text-happy teeny-boppers, so what do they care if the viewership was down? Lamest. Finals. Ever.

    • B.Rich

      Oh they care. Come next year there will not be any country tweens in the top 24. If they do let one in she will be hot, so women hate her.

  • Ryan

    I’ve watched all season, but really don’t care at this point. I don’t love Lauren or Scotty. They are similar artists with similar styles and relatively similar fan bases. They’ve been pushed through by the teenybopper girls (mostly). A finale consisting of two very DIFFERENT artists (think Adam and Kris, Taylor and Katherine, Jordin and Blake) leads to more tension, more excitement and more interest.

  • Amy

    The ratings are down because people like me knew the finale would be boring and didn’t want to take the time to watch. Will this send a message to the producers to make changes next year and not pimp to death contestants?

  • Sasha

    My mom watched it, I showed up somewhere inthe middle ( I didn’t care) but as soon as Lauren began singing to her mother I left the room.

    It was too much BS

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