According to insiders, the 15th and final season of American Idol is rumored to be cut four weeks short, ending sometime in April. Billboard reports that the decision to condense the number of episodes was made by FOX, which wants to “cut its losses.”
American Idol hit a high of over 35 million viewers in season 6. Season 14 opened with 11 million viewers and ended with 8 million. That actually doesn’t sound terrible in the context of network television ratings. Fox, in particular, if Empire is taken out of the equation, has been struggling this season.
FremantleMedia North America president of entertainment programming Trish Kinane wouldn’t confirm Season 15’s shortened schedule, but told Billboard, “The storytelling works better in [fewer] weeks.” During it’s heyday, says Kihane, “Idol was so successful [that the season] got too extended too much. There are only so many hours that viewers will devote to watching these shows, so if it is shorter this year, it will be a good thing.”
Ad revenue has fallen from $628 million in 2013 to $427 million a year later when a 30-second spot went for less than $300,000 (down from 2011’s rate of $500,000), according to Kantar Media.
The Billboard article goes on to assess the ups and downs of the veteran show, in particular the success (or non-success) of it’s alumni.
Apparently, Simon Cowell tried to sign Season 9 Hollywood contestant, Tori Kelly, to his own label, Syco, before he took off to produce X Factor US for FOX. I remember Simon criticising Tori harshly during her run. He seemed to be at least partly responsible for torpedoing her inclusion in the Top 24 that year. Fueling those rumors that Simon tried to sabotage his last season of Idol before he left for good to become a competitor. Of course, now Tori is a pop star, nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy.
Despite a shortened season, maybe we haven’t seen the end of American Idol. Says Kinane: “We haven’t seen the end of this brand.” As we reported here, Idol sent out an interesting survey, asking fans if they’d be willing to watch the show on digital and other platforms.