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.