Fox confirms 'American Idol' will end in 2016

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

By RODNEY HO/, 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