HOLLYWOOD—Well, it was destined to happen at some point. FOX titan “American Idol” is dunzo after one more season in 2016. The series which first arrived in 2002 became one of the biggest reality competition series of all-time. When it aired on TV it was unlike anything ever seen before and totally changed the scope of the reality competition series and singing to say the least.
Never before had audiences witnessed a character like Simon Cowell. This guy was British and a judge who had no problems voicing what everyone else at home was thinking: we were just too afraid to admit it. Cowell made the show in my opinion, and when he left after nine seasons, it became apparent the series was in a bit of trouble. Simon is a character that just can’t be replaced.
Even with powerhouses like Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr., the show still suffered in the ratings. My colleague debated sometime ago that the arrival of “The Voice” was one of the reasons “Idol” suffered in the ratings. “The Voice” was something fresh and unique, something the audience hadn’t seen with a singing competition; that was the first blow to the TV titan. I mean when a show that literally takes in close to 30 million viewers a week falls to around 12-15 million viewers, it’s evident that it might be time to hang up the curtain.
This was a show that catered to the level of star power. I mean if you have artists like Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Steven Tyler, who can’t save the show, what do you think can? Well reinvention. “American Idol” was a show that wasn’t willing to adapt to the time of singing reality shows. When you have one singing competition it’s easy to dominate in the ratings, but when you have four or five different shows it becomes a whole new ballgame.
I will acknowledge the show is responsible for creating some amazing talents like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert and many others. I would argue this is a series where it’s better to not win; as the careers of those who came in second, third and fourth place had longevity than their counterparts. The series also made a household name out of Ryan Seacrest who has become a television personality after years of hosting the series. Seacrest has notably become a bigger name than some of the contestants on the show itself.
While I think television will survive without a weekly dose of America’s favorite singing competition, the inability to fix something that had been broken for some many years was the obvious downfall of the series, whether the honchos at “AI” would like to admit it our not. When ratings begin to fall it means one of two things: the audience has lost interest or it’s time to reinvent yourself in a way that the audience never expected.