'American Idol' Finale Sets New Series-Low Rating Mark

'American Idol' Finale Sets New Series-Low Rating Mark Close proximity to Demi Lovato and Britney Spears' first "The X Factor" auditions is not ideal juxtaposition for some sour news from last night's "American Idol" finale.

The ratings tell an ugly story: 21 million viewers tuned in and saw Phillip Phillips triumph over an ongoing kidney ailment that hospitalized him this past March and will shortly require surgery taking him off several summer concert tour dates, the Associated Press reports.

For any other show, the champagne would be a-poppin'. In "Idol" Land, where Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler isn't sure he'll be judging again next season and Jennifer Lopez allegedly wants Britney bucks to come back, the brows are a-furrowin'. That's the smallest audience to watch a finale in 11 seasons. By comparison, 29.3 million watched the 2011 Season 10 finale. The 2011 finale, which crowned Scott McCreery that season's champ, was a 20-percent leap from 2010. For what it's worth, the tenth season was the first that featured Lopez and Tyler judging alongside "Idol" original judge Randy Jackson.

Let's be honest: "Idol" won't be cancelled. I mean, it will probably never be cancelled. It's such a FOX institution by this point on a level with "The Simpsons" that like "Saturday Night Live" on NBC, it's done when the people who make it say it's done.

That's the case for now.

In the meantime, it's hard to ignore the ass-kicking it could receive give how "The Voice" and "The X Factor" keep pulling down bigger contemporary star-power. In this genre, the judges have become bigger news than the winners. That's even more important when taking into consideration that it seems for every Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson or Carrie Underwood "Idol" has produced, it's also produced a Ruben Studdard or Taylor Hicks. "The Voice" and "The X Factor" have going for them respectively that it's really too soon in either show's life span to tell whether the same will hold true for them.

The fact remains that "Idol" can't coast on legacy that much longer. Jackson may take a great pride in "Idol" being the "originator," and that's deserved. But he needs reminding that creating stars won't matter much if nobody's watching.

 
 
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