Idol ratings are down this year. According to the LA Times:

Through five weeks, Season 8 of “Idol” has slipped 8% compared with last season to 26.8 million total viewers and is down 14% in the advertiser-friendly demographic adults ages 18 to 49, according to data from Nielsen Media Research.

In fact, among adults under age 50, this is the lowest-rated “Idol” (10.6 rating for the Tuesday episodes) since the first season back in summer 2002 (4.9 rating).

So maybe those Idol tweaks–adding a new judge, changing the format of the semi-final rounds, expanding Hollywood week were all for naught?

“Not according to Mike Darnell, Fox’s president of alternative programing. He tells the times he has no regrets, “I wake up every morning and I cannot believe that a show in its eighth season is as dominant as this show is. If we hadn’t done these things, who knows? We might have been 25% or 30% off, which everyone else has been over the last few years.”

I guess we’ll never know, but I can’t imagine the tweaks are having that much of an impact so far. According to Darnell, the Hollywood round was expanded, at the expense of ratings, to make sure viewers became invested, faster:

“Hollywood is where the core viewers really start to attach to people,” he said. As a result, the producers have had more time this season to develop back stories on the Top 36 contestants. “I’ve never felt better about people knowing who’s going into these middle rounds. That’s what drives the show — an attachment to the kids drives attachment to the show.”

I think I understand the game plan here. Ratings in the past couple of seasons took their biggest dip during the Top 12. The Top 36, with their ever-rotating cast of characters will hopefully keep the viewers from getting tired of the same contestants, while the longer Hollywood Round gets them invested in favorite contestants more quickly.

Although, I thought the old semi-final format did a pretty good job getting fans invested, giving fans a chance to watch the contestants grow week by week. The current Top 36 format will have so many contestants coming and going, it’ll be hard to keep track.

What’s the point of getting fans invested during Hollywood, only to be bombarded with a confusing cast of contestants for the 3 weeks afterward?

The Season 8 ratings watch is going to be very interesting.

 
  • t2

    Because I own several city blocks on the Grassy Knoll concerning this show, I think this also gives the PTB more control over who’s in and who’s out. The people we’ve seen a lot of, people will feel more familiar with and they will get voted through. The rest, well, they are part of the “cast of characters” that we are not invested in, and they will remain that way on their plane ride home.

    I actually agree that the way they did the semis last year had us bored with the contestants already by the time they made the top 12–although it is more fair.

    If this show was really about singing, they would go back to having the semis be with piano only. But, as we all know, this show is not just about singing and not necessarily fair at all junctures.

    After 7 years, I watch more for the manipulations than for the contestants so they still have at least one viewer.

    p.s. if they go any week where they add the results of two shows together and get rid of someone, be afraid, be very afraid.

  • http://myspace.com/girlgeek mj

    Because I own several city blocks on the Grassy Knoll concerning this show, I think this also gives the PTB more control over whoà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢s in and whoà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢s out. The people weà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢ve seen a lot of, people will feel more familiar with and they will get voted through. The rest, well, they are part of the à ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã…“cast of charactersà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬  that we are not invested in, and they will remain that way on their plane ride home.

    Well, yeah. There’s that too…

  • tinawina

    Yeah, the strategy would have made a lot more sense for 24 contestants as opposed to 36. It’s too many to get to know.

  • shruco

    Everyone needs to keep in mind that the ratings for any given season are mostly a reflection of what America thought of the preceding season. The highest-rated was S6, which had nothing to do with Blake and Jordin and Melinda and Sanjaya, but everything to do with Taylor and Chris and Kat and Elliott. The ratings took a dip in S7, which tells you what America thought of the tedium and silliness of S6.

    Wait for the Top 12 before passing judgment on S8. Most of us fans are sick and tired of the audition shows and the backstage Hollywood crap, so if we have anything better to do, we skip them. However, I expect that the final ratings will be down. Last season produced a good winner and a good runnerup, but it also was filled with a lot of nonsense, several contestants going home much too early, and several others doing very well early and very, very awful late.

  • Ladybug

    Wait! What about all that free soap suds they were giving out to the college kids??? You mean that didn’t work?????

  • SallyinIllinois

    Yeah, the strategy would have made a lot more sense for 24 contestants as opposed to 36. Ità ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢s too many to get to know.

    Totally agree. And they always tweak the show every year trying to get the numbers up. Every show on TV is down….because people are glued to their computers and video games instead of the TV. I watch a lot of TV shows on hulu.com because the clarity is better than my TV and also, I can do work on the computer and watch the TV shows side by side. (split screen)

    I still don’t get Kara. I just don’t know what she adds to the show; and Simon looks bored again.

  • primeminister

    Wait! What about all that free soap suds they were giving out to the college kids??? You mean that didnà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢t work?????

    Weirdly enough, it seems like the people at my college are tuning back in this year. A lot of them refused to watch Idol last year after the disaster that was known as Sanjaya, but by word of mouth, they heard of David Cook, ended up loving the songs he sang on Idol, and are tuning back in this season!

    So, I think it’s more David Cook than it is the free soap suds! ;)

  • wonderwhy

    Everyone needs to keep in mind that the ratings for any given season are mostly a reflection of what America thought of the preceding season. The highest-rated was S6, which had nothing to do with Blake and Jordin and Melinda and Sanjaya, but everything to do with Taylor and Chris and Kat and Elliott. The ratings took a dip in S7, which tells you what America thought of the tedium and silliness of S6.

    If this year’s ratings are down, wouldn’t that then be a reflection of last year’s season? I thought Season 7 was a snore-fest, and maybe I wasn’t alone in thinking that. Season 6 at least was still about the singers, and still had a bit of charm to it, whether one liked the outcome or not. I lost interest in AI when it became more about the show than the singers and put the spotlight on itself.

  • ParticleHustler

    I actually like the changes, since I am a viewer who gets bored with the show as it gets closer to the end. In fact, some years I don’t even watch the finale because I don’t care about the outcome so much as the TV show aspect of it. I can’t stand the music these people sing/perform and would never consider buying one of their CDs, but I enjoy the process of seeing people come out of nowhere to win. That’s why I’m so much more interested in the pre-show spoilers, the info about what connections they have to the industry, and the process of choosing the top 12 than I am what happens from the point they choose the top 12 until who wins. About the only thing that keeps me interested from that point on is seeing the estimates about how many/few votes each of them gets week after week, and in general seeing if my take on how I thought they performed matches what Simon (and now maybe Kara) thought.

  • christucker765

    Idol is still amazing! How many shows can say they still have 27 million viewers in their 8th season? Probably none

  • abbysee

    Everyone needs to keep in mind that the ratings for any given season are mostly a reflection of what America thought of the preceding season.

    I am too lazy to do the work to see if the numbers bear this premise out or not. It seems a little wrong for me in that then these numbers this year should be better than last, right?

  • bean99

    Obviously after 8 seasons there will be some give. If nothing else the other networks don’t seem to be as scared of putting shows up against idol as they used to. I like Kara but doubt it would do anything to help the ratings nor will the format changes. I think a lot of people don’t even start watching until after the auditions so the new/old format won’t work very well for them. I like that by the time we get to the top 12, we’ve had time to get to know the idols and see them doing different songs. We’ll have a grand total of one time in the semis this season (2 for the wildcards).

  • yeahyeahsure

    If this yearà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢s ratings are down, wouldnà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢t that then be a reflection of last yearà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢s season?

    Yep… Obviously we can’t attribute the entire thing to how S7 was perceived but I do believe the theory that the current season’s ratings particularly at the beginning of the season is partly due to people’s impression of the previous season.

  • hypertwink

    Anecdotally, people I know…some got sick of the shenanigans while some found their Idol in Cook or in Archie. So maybe, there’s some of that going on.

  • Grammie Kari

    I have watched or taped every show since AI began. I love music and dance.

    The only time I sincerely get bored is when there is too much chit chat or goofiness between the judges. Randy’s evaluations bore me. Simon looks bored. Too much time is centered around the judges and not enough on the contestants.

    The TOP 36 format is a failure as far as I am concerned. There are two contestants we haven’t seen, let alone heard them sing. I hope things improve, quickly.