“American Idol” bleeds African-American viewers


But the series is renewed for a 14th season

A year ago, T Dog Media examined American Idol’s ratings among African-American viewers. So let’s check in to see how the show is doing in black households this year.

For the week ending April 20, the Wednesday night edition of Idol finished in seventeenth place with a 4.4 rating, down considerably from the 10.3 rating the show earned in black households during the week of April 28, 2013. Meanwhile, the Thursday edition of Idol – which has been cut to a half-hour this season – didn’t even place in the top 25.

Idol drew only 871,000 black viewers, compared to nearly two million at this time last year.

Once again, Scandal was the most-watched broadcast show in African-American households the week of April 20. Dancing With The Stars took over the spot the following week, thanks to Scandal’s season finishing early.

Idol had been hitting record lows for the last few weeks in the 18-49 demo. Wednesday’s edition earned only a 1.7 rating among adults 18-49 demo and 7.8 million viewers. The loss of African-American viewers – and the failure to win back viewers alienated by last year’s edition – has contributed to Idol’s record low ratings this year.

The show’s decline in black viewership is simple – last year saw popular hip-hop and R&B artists Nicki Manaj and Mariah Carey join the judging panel. While their “drama” kept their fans tuned in, their antics repelled others. Both women – and longtime judge Randy Jackson – all exited at the end of season twelve, with Jackson maintaining a mentor role. All three were replaced with Harry Connick Jr. and a returning Jennifer Lopez, leaving the judging panel with no African-Americans.

And unlike last season when there were two black female singers in the top four, there are none in this year’s batch. The last African-American contestant was eliminated last week.

Despite the years-long ratings decline, Idol has been picked up by Fox for a fourteenth season. The show is still popular among advertisers and continues to be profitable for the network. Remember – it’s not always about the ratings… billings and revenue count too and Idol still does well in both of those departments. Whether Idol continues to hit record ratings lows at this point is irrelevant.