With the writers strike reducing the amount of first-run fare on network television, you might have expected the debut of “American Idol” season seven on Fox to be stronger than ever. Instead, ratings were down from last year, although Idol easily blew away its Tuesday night competition.
With the usual kick-off of good, bad, ugly and really ugly video from regional tryouts, night one of this season’s Idol drew an average of 33.2 million viewers, down 11% from last year’s premiere. Hour one posted a Nielsen Households rating of 16.9 and a 25 share, followed by 17.8/26 for the second hour. A year ago the figures were 18.8/28 and 20.3/30. Ratings were also softer for the key 18-49 demo. Of course, Fox easily won the night, with NBC well back, then CBS and ABC.
TVBR observation: Certainly no one can claim that the Idol phenomenon has run its course. The ratings are still huge, just down from a year ago. So, was last season the peak? It is too early to even speculate on that. If there are finalists who really resonate with the viewing public, Idol could build to its strongest ratings ever. And by then, no one will even remember that the first night was a little soft.