The daunting task ahead for American Idol


RBR-TVBR analysis
For several years now Fox has been the top-rated network in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demo by virtue of a come-from-behind run by “American Idol” in the second half of the season. Idol really has its work cut out for it this year.

After nine weeks of the 2009-2010 season Fox was actually in first place for 18-49, boosted by World Series that ran six games (the maximum is seven) and featured teams from two large East Coast markets, the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies. By contrast, the recent 2010 World Series went only five games and had no team from a top three market or anywhere on the East Coast, so ratings were down as the San Francisco Giants bested the Texas Rangers.

At the Week 9 mark a year ago Fox had an average 18-49 rating of 3.6 season to date (STD) and a 10 share. This year it’s a 2.9/8, tied with ABC for second place, although the Alphabet Net is down from 3.1/9 a year ago.

The leader STD is CBS, with a 3.3/9, up from 3.2/9 a year ago. Also up is Univision, with a 1.6/5 STD vs. 1.4/4 a year ago.

The horse race between Fox and CBS has also gotten more interesting. Fox recently announced that American Idol will not be in its traditional Tuesday and Wednesday slots when it returns in January, but rather airing on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Thus Fox is making a decision to challenge CBS, which has been leading on Thursday – the most-watched night of television – so far this season. But Fox is taking a risk by putting a reality competition show up against some of the most popular scripted shows on television. American Idol will be facing its toughest competition yet as it seeks to retain its title as the #1 show on television.

It will be an interesting horserace.