Why Is Fox So Desperate To Save 'American Idol'?

Television
by Sergio
April 25, 2013 3:15 PM
6 Comments
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The trials and tribulations of American Idol just seem to get worse and worse. And yet, in a bizarre way, which could only exist in the TV business, things have never been better.

I have written before about the ratings problems for AI with its weekly viewership down well over 50% from when it was the most popular show on TV. It was thought that the addition of Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj would dramatically reverse the show’s sagging fortunes.

But that hasn’t been the case at all. When once the show would regularly attract some 30 million viewers a month, this season, in particular, has seen a real decrease in those numbers.

The show is averaging now just over 11 million viewers a week, and last week the show was actually beat by reruns of The Big Bang Theory. (And remember that’s reruns)

And to add insult to injury, NBC’s The Voice beat AI for the first time, pulling in some 14-1/2 million viewers.

Things are so bad on AI that it was reported by various news sources, though denied by Fox of course, that the producers of the show seriously considered replacing Carey with previous AI judge Jennifer Lopez, since that expected ratings boost with Mimi failed to materialize. However the idea was squashed when Carey threatened to sue producers if she was replaced.

And yet, Fox is devoted to the show and will do anything to keep it on the air when everyone else says the show is well past its golden prime, and should be put out of its misery and be cancelled.

Why?

Because AI still is, far and away, Fox's biggest cash cow. According to The Wrap, the show, last year, made for the network an astonishing $836.4 million in ad revenue. And that figure is $100 million more than what the network made in 2011.

All this explains why Fox can’t give up on the show, However, no doubt, the show will not make what it’s been making in the past few years, since this year’s lower ratings means that Fox has to charge lower rates for commercials.  

This season’s going rate that Fox charges for a 30 second spot is $340,000, which sounds like a lot. But when you consider that the network commanded $500,000 for that same 30 second spot last year, you can see the problem the network is facing.

And next season will no doubt bring an even lower rate.

What all this adds up to is that AI has been financially shoring up Fox for years. It didn’t really matter how their other shows were doing as they had AI to rest on. That’s now rapidly becoming less sure, and unless Fox can fix what’s wrong with Idol (like maybe like having people who can really sing, and judges who really give solid criticism like Simon Cowell used to do) they’ve got a problem.

Or perhaps they need to find some new no-one-can-afford-to-miss-every-week hit shows which, in this day and age, is next to impossible to do.

Other than that, the network has some serious work cut out for them.

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6 Comments

  • Blackman | April 25, 2013 4:07 PMReply

    The more important question is who gives a FUCK about American Idol? How's this cinema of the African diaspora? Because dumbass Minaj is a judge? Miss me with this bullshit and write about something real.

  • sergio | April 25, 2013 5:56 PM

    So you're dating only white women too? What you have got against sisters?

  • Shaka | April 25, 2013 5:51 PM

    And here's a response demonstrating why Tambay should have booted Sergio's ass ages ago. Truth hurts that much?

  • Carl | April 25, 2013 4:50 PM

    Shut up bitch.

  • sergio | April 25, 2013 4:46 PM

    Hey still dating those white chicks aren't you?

  • niksmit | April 25, 2013 3:57 PMReply

    I've been watching AI this season. Basically all of the contestants could sing, but not all could sang. Nicki Minaj has been bringing some real talk. Keith Urban as well. It's still past the time for them to let Randy Jackson go. Mariah Carey is on the Paula Abdul train for the refusal to give a really negative critique, but she doesn't bring a similar level of eccentricity. I would prefer the return of La Lopez.

    But yeah, they had many a bad season and I don't know that America will ever be there for this show again at previous viewership levels. Our viewing choices only keep multiplying with other network singing competition shows and web networks making so much original content.

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