Fremantle Exec Blames American Idol Ratings Dive on Winter Olympics

In an interview with Deadline, Trish Kinane the President of Entertainment Programming, North America for Fremantle Media, producer of American Idol and America’s Got Talent (and the late X Factor USA) shared a few of her thoughts on American Idol.

  • She feels they got the judges panel right this year, “You’ve got to have entertainment for the viewers. And the panel’s got to feel like they get on, like they have chemistry, like they have a bit of fun, as well as all the serious bits of the job, and I think we’ve got the panel right this year. I think there has been progress. It has been something that’s sensitive and tricky to do, but I absolutely am really happy with that.”
  • She blames the ratings dive on the Winter Olympics, “In terms of the other format refreshments, you know, we’ve done a lot of little things, small things that all add up to a fresher feel for a long-running show. Until after the Olympics all of that was working very well. If you’re going to ask about the ratings, it was after the Olympics came, that’s where the ratings took a dip. “
  • America’s Got Talent has endured because it has no real competition, “I think it has its own place because it’s variety, it has danger acts, it has kids, it has choirs. So I think the fact that it has all these different things gives it its own place in the market. Whereas the music shows – Idol, X Factor — there’s a lot of competition amongst that specific sort of brand of reality programming in the market. So that’s slightly different.”
  • She does not believe “harsh” judging has gone out of style with audiences, “The thing about both Simon, and what Harry Connick is doing now, is it was real…Harry, in his own way, is the same because he’s really passionate about helping these kids. He thinks they’re talented, and he thinks he should help them, but part of helping them is to be critical when they need him to be critical. It was always, no, you can do better. Maybe on some other shows it’s gone softer, but I think as long as it’s authentic and genuine, then I think there’s a place for that honesty, and I think viewers appreciate it.
  • She believes technology is how American Idol brought back the talent show. And technology will determine the next big thing in reality programming. – “…when Idol started, there wasn’t any Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Twitter or any of that stuff. But telephone voting became possible, and text voting became possible, and that’s what changed the face of the talent show. The ability for people to have a say, for people to have some control, that, I think, is what made it different. It was the right time, and that technological advancement that made Idol happen. We’ve all got to be looking for the next thing, and I think technology and what technology enables us to do will have some bearing on what the next big thing is.”

It’s true that American Idol ratings took a significant dip when the Winter Olympics began on NBC. However, they never got their audience back, while other TV shows seemed to rebound.  Viewers just did not have a compelling reason to return after the games ended.

Read the entire interview at Deadline

About mj santilli 33319 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!