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'American Idol' drops again: How low will the ratings go?


When American Idol season 12 premiered lower in the ratings than last year, that was to be expected — returning weaker has been the show’s trend for several years.

When Idol numbers dipped after the show moved from auditions to the Hollywood rounds, that was also to be expected too — the reality veteran’s ratings tend to sag during the middle portion of its run every year.

But Idol is dropping nearly every week and last night was down 50 percent from its Thursday night premiere this season … and that’s scary.

Thursday’s Idol fell another 7 percent down to 11.7 million viewers and a 2.8 rating among adults 18-49. Again: a 2.8 rating. For the first time ever, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy topped Idol in these early numbers. Hell, Scandal nearly tied Idol!

Here’s Idol‘s Wednesday night track in the demo since its debut this season: 6.0, 5.5, 5.5, 4.6, 4.3, 4.1, 3.9, 3.8, 3.8, 3.6. While Thursday’s trend has been: 5.6, 5.2, 4.5, 4.1, 3.7, 3.9, 3.8, 3.6, 3.1 and then last night’s preliminary 2.8, down 33 percent from last year’s airing this week. The only time the show’s ratings have gone up this season was the week after Valentine’s Day (which is a traditionally soft night for TV viewing).

Elsewhere on the grid: ABC’s regular-folks version of Wife Swap was up from its last season premiere. Grey’s was up 12 percent. A special 1600 Penn at 8:30 was softer than Parks and Recreation in the slot. CW’s Vampire Diaries perked up a tenth for last night’s punk rock episode.


'Idol' does OK opposite repeats

Opposite mostly repeats and a slightly weakened Survivor, Fox notched a nightly win in the adult demo and viewers Wednesday with its two-hour telecast of American Idol. Though the competition show is fighting its own erosion — it’s down 3% versus last week, though Fox blames it on a 9% decline in TV usage – the show earned a 3.6 rating/11 share in the demo and attracted 13.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen data.

CBS was second for the night in the demo (2.0/6) and viewers (8.2 million), with Survivor: Caramoan earning a 2.5/8, down 4% from last week, and 9.5 million viewers. It was followed by repeats of Criminal Minds and CSI.

ABC was third for the night in the demo with a 1.2/4 (oof), with a repeat of The Middle and an original of The Neighbors (1.4/4) hitting a series low. Repeats of Modern Family, Suburgatory and Nashville came later. Dang, these post-February sweeps days blow.
NBC earned a 1.1/3 for the night (double oof), with an original of Whitney at 8 (1.2/4, down 8% from last week) followed by repeats of another Whitney, and Law & Order and Chicago Fire.

CW aired repeats of Arrow and Supernatural.

'American Idol' chatter: Five things we learned backstage after the top 10 reveal

American Idol revealed its top 10 last night, but after the lights dimmed on the live show, the new crop of contestants and the judges had a chance to speak to the press about the big night and preview the competition to come.

So what did we learn? Here are some highlights:

1. Keith Urban thinks Lazaro could upset the Year of the Girl
Since the early audition rounds, producers and judges have said the girls have a strong chance of breaking the male-winner streak. But while Keith Urban notes the strength of the female lot, he’s not counting out the boys, especially Lazaro Arbos. “There are some really good girls singers, but when you see a guy like Burnell [Taylor] or even more so Lazaro and the way he connects with an audience — he comes out and sings and they go crazy. They love him and the votes have really reflected that,” Urban told reporters.

So could Arbos be the one to upset what’s been referred to by some as the Year of the Girls? “He certainly could be,” says Urban. “But I love that there’s a few in here who could do that if they get the right song and the stars line up. The timing is everything. I hate that [that’s the case] for them. It’s like — you might be the best football team ever, but if you don’t have the game on Super Bowl day that you need, you don’t win. But you could [have] won the day before if you’d played the day before. This show is like that.”

Meanwhile, Arbos admits that his “Bridge Over Troubled Water” performance may have not been his best showing: “Yeah, I was a hot mess with my song tonight. I didn’t get a chance to rehearse it. Therefore, I walked on stage and found out I have to sing, I was like, ‘Oh My God! Uh-Oh.’ So from now on, I just want to get comfortable with performing.”

2. That reveal was awkward for the contestants, too.
EW recapper Annie Barrett wasn’t a fan of the awkwardly formatted top 10 reveal show, saying it lacked suspense and tension for the home audience. But backstage, the biggest problem was an overload of emotions. “I think that was the ugliest walk I’ve ever made because I was in the middle of crying and laughing and just thinking of what’s going on back home right now,” Amber Holcomb joked. “But it was great.” Spanish-speaking singer Devin Velez also admitted to being a little overwhelmed after the big moment. “I got a little woozy, and Ryan had to shake me, ‘Devin, Devin, you have to go on stage.’ And the moment the doors open on stage, I just walked out, and I had to put my face in my hands. I just couldn’t look. It was unbelievable that all those people were clapping for me because they voted for me,” he said. “It was just confirmation of, ‘Devin, you’re here to sing. You were born to sing. We need you to do this.’ So it was like, ‘Alright. I have to do it now.'”

3. A change will do you good
Speaking of Velez, who has made it a point to show off his Spanish skills during his performances thus far, he’s going to skip the Spanish twist next week in an effort to keep his offerings fresh. “I’m not going to make it predictable; I want to catch them by surprise. If you make it predictable, you will get voted off. But I definitely think there will be more coming, just not right now. We’re going to take a break,” he said. “I might [eventually] do a whole Spanish song, too, but I don’t know yet. It’s all up in the air right now.”

4. Even contestants fear the Nicki
Minaj’s side eyes aren’t the only scary thing about this season of American Idol. As contestants prepare to head into the more intense rounds of competition, Minaj’s razor-sharp tongue and bluntness have some of them sweating. “She’s always so honest — but it’s so necessary,” Burnell Taylor told us, after confessing Minaj was the judge whose critiques he’s most fearing. “I can always count on her when it comes to honesty.” Country singer Janelle Arthur echoed the statement, saying despite being Minaj’s beloved “Marshmallow,” she doesn’t consider herself safe. “Even though I know Nicki loves me, I always know that she’s looking for that certain thing that makes her love me. So when she doesn’t see it, I know she’s going to bring it up and she’s going to say, ‘What happened? I didn’t see what I wanted to see,'” said Arthur. “She’s also so unpredictable. I never know what she’s going to do. So, yeah, I’m probably most apprehensive about her.”

5. Just Say No… to Carrie
While we’re talking about Arthur, it’s worth bringing up that this blond country singer is well aware of the comparisons being drawn to that other blonde country singer from Idol, and while flattering, she said she has no plans to cover a Carrie Underwood song. “I’m trying to stay as far away from the Carrie Underwood songs as I can because Carrie is incredible,” she said. “I don’t want to be compared to Carrie — but of course I’m going to be because I’m blonde and country. But our styles are so different, and that’s the good thing about it. Hopefully Nashville has room for another blonde.” One blonde singer’s music she definitely wants a chance to tackle, however? “I hope to perform a Dolly Parton song at some point,” she said.

EW’s Idol recap:
‘American Idol': Here’s your Top 10

'American Idol' announces new way to vote: SuperVote

This is…a slightly new way to vote on American Idol.

SuperVote is an online tool for fans to cast 50 votes all at once via any of the AT&T American Idol Vote destinations:, the mobile app, and Facebook, Fox announced today. Fans will be able to send all 50 votes to one contestant, or allocate them among a few different performers.

This follows a 2011 announcement that allowed fans to vote online. As always, viewers will still be able to vote via a phone call after the show, but now it seems like passionate fans won’t have to spend as much time texting massive amounts of votes to keep their favorite in the game. The new system will kick off tomorrow night, when the 10 girl semifinalists – including Breanna Steer and Janelle Arthur  – take the stage.

We can’t wait to see Nicki Minaj’s reaction to the news.

Read more:
‘American Idol’ recap: Girls Rule, Boys Drool
Nicki Minaj’s ‘Idol’ eye rolls are really irritating
‘American Idol’ 2013: Top 20 guys and girls are…

Simon Cowell is launching another talent competition

Simon Cowell just can’t quit creating new variations on Star Search. The ex-American Idol judge and current X Factor majordomo announced today that his company, Syco Entertainment, is joining forces with YouTube for “The You Generation,” an online talent competition that will be available in 15 languages and 26 different countries.

The twist: It’s not just for singers. According to Syco, “You Generation” is seeking “unconventional and original talents” in a variety of categories, including photography, cooking, visual art, and — perhaps most excitingly — magic. The contest begins next month, when would-be contestants can begin uploading their video entries onto the competition’s YouTube channel. Prizes will be awarded “every fortnight,” with a grand prize coming at the end of one year.

See the amusingly melodramatic trailer for “You Generation” below:


'American Idol' Hollywood Round: What to expect

Gone are the halcyon days of American Idol auditions, in which the judges would put 50-plus people (of whom we viewers would get to meet at least… 10?) through to the next round. Tonight, the two-week “Hollywood Round” — guys this week, girls next — begins on Fox. “The minute we hit Hollywood, we go, ‘God, we’ve got 300 kids here,” executive producer Ken Warwick told EW in the midst of shooting Hollywood Round footage. “So the whole mental thing changes to ‘Who can we cut, and why?”

Below, Idol honchos Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe on what to expect. READ FULL STORY

Former 'Idol' contestant Corey Clark sues Fox and others

Another American Idol contestant is in the news, and this time, it’s season 2’s Corey Clark. Clark filed a lawsuit Friday against Fox, E! Entertainment, and others for allegedly defaming him in comments made about his exit from the show as well as his alleged relationship with Paula Abdul. (EW reached out to reps for Fox, E!, and Paula Abdul; A rep for Fox declined to comment, E! says they have not yet been served with the lawsuit so have no comment, and Abdul has yet to respond).

The suit, filed in Tennessee, sues for defamation and false light invasion of privacy, among other similar charges, according to the 44-page court document obtained by EW.

In 2002, Clark auditioned for American Idol and was a finalist contestant before he was disqualified. Idol says he was booted because he failed to disclose a previous arrest. According to the lawsuit, the charges were dropped, and Clark claims he did disclose the original arrest to Idol producers. Clark alleges he was cast in the “villain” role of a “scripted” television program without his knowledge. Concurrently, he began a brief “love affair” with Abdul. While Clark didn’t talk publicly about the affair, he says in the lawsuit that senior producers knew, and that was ultimately the reason he was kicked off the show. READ FULL STORY

InsideTV Podcast: Is Mariah Carey the most boring 'American Idol' judge...ever?

Image Credit: Michael Becker/Fox

Image Credit: Michael Becker/Fox

Other than a possibly manufactured feud with Nicki Minaj that she appears to want no part of, has Mariah Carey added anything to the American Idol judging panel? Considering all the vocal expertise at her disposal, we hoped she’d have some legitimate constructive criticism to share with this year’s auditioning contestants. Instead, she merely smiles, says yes or no in as boring a manner as possible, and then goes back to praying that her fellow female judge does not light into her again. Mariah’s yawn-worthy entrance onto the American Idol stage is just one of the first impressions Jessica Shaw and I will be breaking down on this week’s edition of the InsideTV Podcast.

Also up for discussion on the new season of Idol: Is Randy the only judge actually willing to criticize? How are we feeling about the steady stream of inspirational sob stories being shoved down our throats? And does Keith Urban deserve better than being forced to play peacemaker between the two feuding divas? Also, who are our early favorites among the contestants? Click on the audio player icon to hear our thoughts and see if you agree. (The American Idol discussion beings at 24:00.)

But first, it’s time to get busy with one of our TV favorites — Busy Philipps! That’s right, the Cougar Town star calls in to talk about the comedy’s big move to TBS, her boobs getting a lot bigger (due to her pregnancy, natch), and what’s in store for her character coming up. She also shares some memories from her Freaks and Geeks days and plays a few kick-ass rounds of Jessica’s new game — 7 Degrees of Busy Philipps. READ FULL STORY

'American Idol' Night 2 ratings shrink gap: Are the new judges working?


The second night of Fox’s 12th season of American Idol showed a sign of improvement for the reality veteran.

Make no mistake, Thursday’s Idol was lower rated than the premiere — that’s standard, especially since the show shifted to a Wednesday-Thursday pattern a couple years back. But instead of dropping 19 percent year over year like the first episode, Night 2 was down only 2 percent — a mere tenth of a point — from 2012. And even that gap could get erased when the final national ratings come in later.

In other words: Whether you love or hate the addition of Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj, more viewers stuck with the show this season after checking out the first episode. During the last couple years, Idol ratings dropped at least 20 percent between the show’s first two nights; this time the decline was only 7 percent. In fact, looking at the chart below, this the first time Night 2 hasn’t dropped significantly year over year since Idol‘s ratings plunge began in 2008. The two-hour telecast delivered 16.2 million viewers and a 5.6 rating among adults 18-49. Maybe Fox’s reality chief Mike Darnell was onto something when he told us yesterday that the judging panel was generating helpful buzz.

A tougher test will come when CBS resumes airing original episodes of its powerful Thursday lineup (CBS ran repeats last night). The Big Bang Theory is pulling down larger numbers lately than last night’s Idol performance and seems likely to win the night outright in the coming weeks.

Also Thursday: ABC was once again hit across the board by Idol, all shows dropping 7-17 percent. The return of The CW’s Vampire Diaries had its best numbers in a couple months (followed by a repeat of The Carrie Diaries pilot which came precariously close to tying its low-rated premiere). In fact, Vampire Diaries beat NBC’s 30 Rock and 1600 Penn in the demo. NBC’s comedy block was down — except Parks & Recreation, which jumped up from its last telecast six weeks ago.

Check out Annie Barrett’s Idol recap here.

Idol Night 2 history: READ FULL STORY

'American Idol' premiere ratings down: 'NCIS' scored more viewers


The only real question was: By how much?

Fox’s American Idol returned Wednesday night to its lowest-rated and least-watched regular-season premiere telecast ever (the first season aired during the summer and generally isn’t counted). Idol delivered 17.9 million viewers and a 6.0 adults 18-49 demo rating. That’s down 19 percent from last year’s opener, which was the previous lowest-ever record-holder.

The numbers also mean last night’s Idol premiere will not be the most-watched entertainment show this week — Tuesday’s NCIS had 22.9 million viewers. This is the first time another series was seen by more viewers than Idol during its regular season premiere week.

Fox was braced for worse. Last year Idol was down an unprecedented 24 percent after the network launched The X Factor in the fall. This fall had both X Factor and NBC’s powerful The Voice, so competition show burnout by the time Idol opened seemed likely. Idol still managed to rank as the top-rated singing show premiere this season.

Fox’s American Idol has been largely on a downward trend since 2008 due to the reality mega-hit getting older and facing a broadcast landscape that’s increasingly crowded with singing shows. High-profile new judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban have made for plenty of fun headlines, but media insiders know they’re sandbags on the levy. Last night I predicted (rather accurately as it turned out) that Idol would return down 18 percent in the adult demo. Oddly enough, the only new judge in American Idol or The X Factor history that ever seemingly outright prevented a premiere ratings decline wasn’t a high-priced diva, but a celebrity lacking any real music industry experience — Ellen DeGeneres in 2010.

Viewers had mixed reactions to the premiere. To some, having the feel-good show focus on Carey vs. Minaj sniping was a turn-off. “If what we can look forward to [this season] is the immature, catty, out of control, ridiculous diva banter/bashing we won’t be tuning in for long,” one reader wrote on my Idol premiere ratings prediction post last night. While EW’s Idol recapper Annie Barrett summarized, “By the second hour of NYC auditions, Nicki had completely taken over the panel — shouting out directions to the contestants and always speaking first. You know, it’s generally fine if someone feels the need to do that. Compared to the autopilot judging on The X Factor and even Idol last season, I am thrilled to have someone in the driver’s seat, and beyond ecstatic that all four judges appeared to be awake and even [gasp!] interested in what was happening. The question is whether millions of American Idol viewers will accept and enjoy that our season 12 chauffeur appears to be rainbow sherbet wig enthusiast.”

See my Idol ratings prediction post for more analysis. And see Barrett’s Idol premiere recap here.

Other shows: The CW’s Arrow actually managed to improve a tenth of a point from its last telecast despite a winter hiatus and Idol competition. Supernatural was up a tick too. ABC’s comedy block was down slightly across the board, though Nashville improved a tick. Criminal Minds was down 10 percent, while CSI was up a notch.

UPDATE: Fox reacts to ‘Idol’ premiere ratings, says feud will intensify

Last Night’s Chart: READ FULL STORY

'American Idol': Let's predict the ratings


Will Mariah and Nicki rescue American Idol? Or are we in for another “Idol ratings dive!” headline?

Below is a chart of all the previous Idol premieres (including that funky doesn’t-really-count first season which aired during the summer of 2002). You can see why Fox shook up the panel this season. The show’s adults 18-49 premiere rating peaked in 2007 with a massive 15.8. The numbers ebbed down in ’08 and ’09. Then, in 2010, the premiere actually perked up a tick.

What caused the show to halt its decline that year? It’s impossible to know for sure, but the consensus from insiders is that media buzz surrounding the hiring of talk show host Ellen DeGeneres for the judges panel kept the ratings afloat — even though she barely appeared in the first episode (many casual Idol viewers were unaware that DeGeneres didn’t join the Idol team until after the early auditions). If that theory is correct, it’s interesting that the only judge shakeup in American Idol or The X Factor history that ever prevented a ratings decline wasn’t by hiring some high-priced diva, but a celebrity who lacked any real music industry experience.

Fox hoped Idol ratings would stabilize, but the show’s premiere had a 17 percent drop in 2011 and then an unprecedented 24 percent drop last year. What will tonight’s premiere bring?

If any new judge drives viewers to Idol this evening, it probably won’t be Carey or Minaj, despite all the headlines over their supposed feud. Granted, Minaj could help deliver eyeballs this season once we get a sample of her cutting criticism. But for the premiere, I suspect Keith Urban is best positioned to help the ratings. Country music award shows and the success of The Voice (which has country star Blake Shelton) suggest country appeal can potentially drive broadcast viewers.

One executive at a non-Fox network suspected Idol could be relatively stable tonight since last year’s big change of having X Factor run in Fox’s fall probably heavily contributed to its previous decline — so this year the Factor effect is already factored in (so to speak). Another guessed a drop around 10 percent.

So let’s make a prediction for the 12 season debut! Taking into account Idol ratings history … Fox’s weak fall performance … NBC’s The Voice being added to the fall … recent album sales of Carey, Urban and Minaj … my level of annoyance at Idol billboards in West L.A. …  the current market price of soybean futures … and the angle of the sun on my laptop keyboard at this moment … I’m going to somewhat pessimistically predict an 18 percent decline to a 6.1 rating. Thoughts?

Also, check out Annie Barrett’s 12 Wishes for Idol Season 12.

UPDATE: American Idol premiere ratings are in: Suck it, Nate Silver!

Idol Premiere History: READ FULL STORY

'American Idol': New featurette offers boobs, clown costumes, and one tender Mariah Carey/Nicki Minaj moment -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 2.04.44 AM

Granted, Mariah probably only looks so giddy here because a sassy male contestant has just told Nicki, “Shut yo mouth.” (Hidden gem: Randy Jackson’s hand, conjuring up this television magic.) Below, we’ve got an exclusive featurette to get you ready for American Idol‘s season 12 premiere this Wednesday and Thursday on Fox. It’s the first clip I’ve seen that shows more than just a split second of a hopeful’s crazy-good vibrato — as well as much more of the intra-judge dynamic.

We’ve also got Mariah Carey’s boobs competing with Mariah Carey’s hair for Most Volumnious in her single shot. You can’t blame her; it’s hard out there when the other diva at the table is an even bigger wig collector than you. Check it out: READ FULL STORY

'American Idol': Watch a live Q&A with the judges and Ryan Seacrest! -- VIDEO

Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey, Ryan Seacrest, Nicki Minaj, and Keith Urban are doing an hour-long Q&A at 8:30 p.m. ET following a private press screening of the season 12 premiere — and we’ve got the live feed!  Will Randy wear a beaded pin? Will former shopping buddies Mariah and Nicki come up with euphemisms even more press-friendly than “I’m just not that into her” re: each other? Will Keith Urban open his mouth? Find out….liiiiive!….in the player below.  READ FULL STORY


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