Half of Idol’s viewers are over age 35; text voters send an average of 38 votes

Those people still watching American Idol 7 are older than one might imagine: More than half of its viewers are over age 35, and David Archuleta’s presumed fan base, kids ages 2 to 17, are actually only 15 percent of the audience, Reuters reports, citing data from Nielsen.

That fits with previously reported data. This season has lost a significant number of women ages 18 to 34 and kids 2 to 11, and overall, is down to an average of 27 million viewers compared to 30 million last year. The slide stopped last week, though, as ratings rebounded slightly for the results show.

Nielsen also found that those who send text message votes do so an average of 38 times, and more of those voters are women. They did not track or survey those who vote via telephone, which would seem to be the more significant number, since that group is far less restricted (text voters have to be AT&T subscribers and pay for those messages).

Elsewhere in pre-American Idol finale coverage, today’s lesson in bad journalism–specifically how to pretend to write a journalistic story by assembling a thin group of sources to verify your beliefs rather than just writing what you think–comes from Associated Press writer Lynn Elber and her story about why show has been so boring despite its claims of talent. That’s a fairly interesting topic, but she fumbles it with thin reporting instead of just going for a full-on analytical commentary.

The first clue that something’s off are references to “some fans and observers,” and there’s also attribution such as “watchers say,” both of which are super-vague and sketchy. That’s confirmed when the story ends up citing just three sources to support its claims: “regular ‘Idol’ viewer Mike Anderson of Yakima, Wash,” “music industry analyst Bob Lefsetz (whose criticism doesn’t show up until the second-to-last paragraph), and fall-back source Dave Della Terza from Vote for the Worst, the site that’s funny and witty and sometimes breaks news, but has never managed to actually influence anything except the media’s perception of its influence.

It’s Mike Anderson and Dave Della Terza’s criticism that the story hangs on, because Lefsetz doesn’t show up until the end, and the three other people quoted in the story aren’t critics. They are Nigel Lythgoe, Taylor Hicks (who we’re told “remains upbeat about” the show despite how it, like, failed him), and Red Light Management’s Bruce Flohr, who’s identified as “an ‘Idol’ admirer” who doesn’t like the presence of fame-seekers.

So basically it’s Nigel Lythgoe versus Mike Anderson (who?!) and Dave Della Terza, who admits that he’s “sick of the show” and reports that his web site traffic has dropped in half since last season. That may be Elber’s most compelling piece of evidence, because when people stop caring enough to make fun of something, the target of their former scorn is in trouble.

Average “Idol” voter casts 38 ballots by text [Reuters]
Good singers make for a dull season of ‘Idol’ [AP]

The Sing-Off loses its star

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What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.