/// Why Everything You Think You Know About American Idol Is Dead Wrong
While ratings watchers last week predictably enacted the Friday morning ritual of gnashing their teeth and rending their garments over the state of American Idol , those who would suggest that the show is on its last legs are perhaps more delusional than William Hung . If Idol is no longer the event horizon of broadcast television, an inescapable black hole that sucks GRPs out of the prime-time firmament, it remains one of the single most valuable assets on the tube. Now in its 12th season on Fox, Idol is averaging 13.3 million total viewers and a 3.9 in the all-important adult 18-49 demo, down from the 16.3 million viewers and 5.4 rating it averaged at this point in Season 11. Idol also trails Season 4 of NBC’s The Voice, which through 11 episodes is averaging 13.5 million viewers and a 4.6 in the dollar demo. Were the season to end today, Idol would be ranked fifth among all prime time series, following on the heels of NBC’s Sunday Night Football (8.2 in the demo), CBS’ The Big Bang Theory (5.3), The Voice and ABC’s Modern Family (4.4). Idol’s best days are behind it, but its ratings declines are nothing new, and in some ways can be seen as a function of the hamstrung music market. The show hit its zenith in Season 5, when it delivered a jaw-dropping 30.3 million live-plus-same-day viewers and averaged a gaudy 12.4 in the demo. That was seven years ago, when total record sales (CDs, vinyl and digital) added up to 618.9 million units.