American Idol saw low numbers all around for this season, but it was capped off by a record low for the finale. Overall the show was down 30% from last season; last nights numbers posted 32% below that of last season. It scored a Nielson rating of 6.1/18 among adults 18-49, making it the lowest closer ever.
It drew in 21.5 million viewers according to Fox projections, which is also an all time low. With the exception of seasons 2, 5 and 10, the show has been in year over year decline. Those few exceptions only brought a fleeting resurgence in popularity. Season two posted the highest numbers of all, with a 16.8/37 Nielson rating and 38 million viewers. This decline has culminated in a 6.3/19 this past season with 21.5 million viewers. (The first number in the Nielson rating represents the percentage of TVs tuned to that station, the second represents the percentage of people watching TV at that time who are tuned to that program.)
Some have attributed this poor performance to a large number of shows that saw its season finale air last night. Each of them saw an increase in thier viewrs compared to last weeks episodes. The season finale of The Middle (2.0/7 up 5%), Modern Family (4.0/11 up 10%), Don’t Trust The B—- (2.5/7 up 32%), Revenge (2.4/6 up 20%) NBC’s Off Their Rockers finale (1.5/5 up 7%) and Law & Order: SVU‘s (1.9/5up 12%) all contributed to Idol's poor performance.
With the increasing number of vocal and talent shows currently being aired, one has to wonder how long Idol can last against so much competition.
Here are the season by season numbers for American Idol, from Deadline Hollywood:
WEDNESDAY-09/04/2002 8:00 PM-10:00 PM 23.021 million 10.8/30
WEDNESDAY-05/21/2003 9:00 PM-10:00 PM 38.060 million 16.8/37
WEDNESDAY-05/26/2004 8:00 PM-10:02 PM 28.839 million 12.0/32
WEDNESDAY-05/25/2005 8:00 PM-10:01 PM 30.269 million 12.5/31
WEDNESDAY-05/24/2006 8:00 PM-10:04 PM 36.383 million 14.2/36
WEDNESDAY-05/23/2007 8:00 PM-10:09 PM 30.755 million 11.5/31
WEDNESDAY-05/21/2008 8:00 PM-10:06 PM 31.688 million 11.4/30
WEDNESDAY-05/20/2009 8:00 PM-10:07 PM 28.838 million 10.0/28
WEDNESDAY-05/26/2010 8:00 PM-10:07 PM 24.215 million 8.2/24
WEDNESDAY-05/25/2011 8:00 PM-10:07 PM 29.288 million 9.2/26
WEDNESDAY-05/23/2012 8:00 PM-10:07 PM 21.5 million 6.3/19[source: deadline]