Fox confirms 'American Idol' will end in 2016

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Hollywood Reporter, citing unnamed sources Sunday, says Fox may finally end "American Idol" after 15 seasons next year.

UPDATE: On Monday morning, Fox confirmed that 2016 will be the last for "Idol," a show that broke the mold in 2002 and became the most popular show in America for many years.

Reasons for ending "Idol" come down to dollars and cents. Once a hugely profitable enterprise, I can't imagine it makes Fox much money anymore. The show keeps shedding viewers. Ratings are down at least 10 percent this year. Except for a slight blip upwards season 10, ratings have fallen every year since season five. And oh, they have fallen. Once regularly drawing 30-plus million viewers a week in its peak, "Idol" barely draws 10 million viewers now, even including DVR use and less than 1/6th the 18-49 year olds. It gets beaten by "Survivor" head to head. "The Goldbergs" draws more 18-to-49 year olds now than "Idol," whose average viewer has aged more than two decades the past 14 years.

And an even bigger difference: a pure lack of buzz. Nobody talks about "Idol" outside of hardcore followers like us here on this blog. The show itself hasn't generated anything remotely close to a star since season 11 with winner Phillip Phillips.

Although this year has been pretty good with one of the deeper talent pools "Idol" has ever drawn, the contestants are getting a tiny fraction of the attention they would have a decade ago. I still can't believe an "American Idol" winner a year removed from the crown would struggle to draw 50 paying customers to a concert, as what happened to poor Caleb Johnson last Sunday here in Atlanta.

Let's hope if this is indeed the last season, Fox will do what we've talked about: roll out past contestants and judges and make this a nostalgia-filled season as much as a search for a superstar, as they say. That might bring back a few old fans for one last time. I'm sure Brian Dunkleman is available!

TV preview

'American Idol," 9 p.m. Tuesday and season finale at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Fox

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
X