Idol ratings increase night-to-night; average viewer is now 40.3 as young viewers flee

American Idol 8‘s second night, which featured Kansas City auditions and Jason Castro’s brother Michael Castro (Kara: “You have this, ‘I have a secret’ vibe”), drew more viewers than its first night, a significant achievement.

As Fox said in a press release, that’s “the first time in five years that American Idol’s Wednesday premiere has increased over its Tuesday debut in Adults 18-49 (since Jan ’04) and the first time in the five years that Total Viewers retained at least 100% of its Tuesday debut audience.”

Among total viewers, 30.4 million tuned in, while adults 18 to 34 increased 10 percent and adults 18 to 49 increased one percent night-to-night, Fox said. Still, with viewers 18 to 49, there was “a decline of 8% compared with the first Wednesday show last year,” as the Los Angeles Times reports.

That’s not good, because the decline in ratings for American Idol 8‘s premiere (compared to last year) was most severe among the younger viewers coveted most by networks and advertisers.

Comparing last January’s premiere to this Tuesday’s debut, 16 percent of viewers ages 18 to 49 left, while 25 percent of those 18 to 34 bailed, the Los Angeles Times reports. Still, the show won the night among 18- to 49-year-old viewers.

Citing Nielsen Media Research numbers, the L.A. Times also reports that the show’s median age is now 40.3. Last season it was 38.2. Compare that to 35 for season four, or 29.5 for the very first season of American Idol.

Fox entertainment chair Peter Liguori told Broadcasting & Cable after the first episode’s ratings came out that “it is tough to expect the No. 1 show, the broadest show on television, to defy broadcast viewing habits.” However, he said he pays attention to year-to-year ratings numbers, and said, “When you look within Idol’s galaxy, you do not want to see the show erode,” he said. Still, he said, “This is a show that is 40-plus hours strong, and only the first two hours have been told.”

‘American Idol’ night 2 draws 29.8 milion viewers, ‘American Idol’ premiere ratings slip 10% as young viewers bail and ‘American Idol’ median viewer age hits 40 [Los Angeles Times]
Fox’s Liguori “Relieved,” But Not Satisfied, With ‘Idol’ Opener [Broadcasting & Cable]

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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.