American Idol now regularly topping The Voice

In the battle of the music competition series, there’s been an unexpected turnaround in the past few weeks, as American Idol, while suffering significantly lower ratings than last year, is now the number-one TV series, beating The Voice among all viewers and younger viewers.

Variety reports that The Voice was “finishing higher than Idol in four of their first five common weeks. Over the last three weeks, though, Idol has prevailed.” Still, it’s “up vs. last year (though recent trend lines have diminished those gains) while Idol is down by more than 20% — its first significant year-over-year falloff after holding up surprisingly well in the years since its peak season of 2006.”

EW notes that “The Voice has declined the last five weeks in a row. It’s down 52 percent this week from its first Monday episode”—although the magazine forgets to note that the first Monday episode aired the day after the show’s post-Super Bowl debut. Variety says that because of that sweet debut timeslot, Idol may not be number one at the end of the season “because The Voice was able to include its hugely rated season premiere following the Super Bowl (a whopping 16.3 rating in the demo) into its averages; a seldomly applied Nielsen rule allows the premiere rating for a Monday series that opens its season on a Sunday (within 24 hours of its regular Monday timeslot) to count in season averages.”

The Voice is NBC’s star performer, though that’s a faint compliment. It does do well, though; last night’s results show was the number-one show among 18- to 49-year-olds last night, although Dancing with the Stars had more viewers overall, several of whom likely watched from their coffins.

Overall, American Idol is back to number one, which I think has to do with its selection of more relevant and interesting singers this year that came with a scaling down of its sense of spectacle, both smart moves. There’s also The Voice’s battle round problem; those episodes have little consequence, since the matches are so lopsided, and they’re nowhere near as fun as the blind auditions.

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