Ratings down 7% overall and nearly 20% among women 18-34 for American Idol 7

Compared to last season, ratings behemoth American Idol 7 has lost 7 percent of its viewers, and almost 20 percent of its women ages 18 to 34. Just last week, the show had its lowest-rated performance episode in two years. As a result, Fox executives are at least considering changes for next season.

The series, which is still the most-watched program on television, “has slipped 7% in average total viewers (to 29.2 million, as of last week) compared with last season” and “has shed nearly one-fifth of women viewers ages 18 to 34 — one of its most important constituencies — and is down a comparable amount among kids 2 to 11,” The Los Angles Times’ Scott Collins reports. He says this is “a bad sign, because children and young adults are generally the first to bail on a show that’s getting crow’s feet.”

While Collins notes that “Fox executives, for their part, are quick to point out that all of network TV has suffered in this strike-plagued season” and “have collectively dipped 10% among adults 18 to 49 this season,” he concludes that “[t]he more fundamental problem, though, is probably show fatigue.” Executive producer Ken Warwick admits that the show may be growing old. “It would be great if the ratings could stay in the high 20s or low 30s. But everything has a sell-by date. Everything,” he said.

Fox’s Preston Beckman said, “We have to think about how it’s presented. These are questions you naturally ask when a show is in its seventh year.” However, he also said that American Idol “has defied the odds. ‘American Idol’ has held up better than any other show, scripted or unscripted, on television.”

Ominous signs for ‘American Idol’ [Los Angeles Times]