Fox announced today that the upcoming 15th season of American Idol will be its last. American Idol’s iconic logo design is recognized by millions of people. The show was the most popular non-sports show on television for eight consecutive years, pulling in 20 million viewers from 2003 to 2011.Its branding was so successful, that other television networks wouldn’t run a decent show against it. This year’s season barely pulled in 9 million viewers. No longer a top-rated program, Idol’s good years are clearly behind it. Fierce competition and advertiser defections, among other factors, have seemingly sealed the show’s fate.
Where Did American Idol Go Wrong?
One of American Idol’s problems was the rising competition. NBC’s “The Voice,” and “America’s Got Talent,” split the audience and fatigued fans of the genre. Fox’s own “The X Factor” cannibalized on its viewers. As the number of people tuning in each week declined, advertisers began to loose interest. High profile sponsors, Coca-Cola and AT&T, jumped ship after years of cross brand promotion. In an attempt to save its ratings American Idol began to focus more on relationships.
“It’s been a remarkable journey, and I feel very fortunate to have been part of a show that made television history in countless ways” – Ryan Seacrest
As the seasons progressed, American Idol focused more and more on fights between Simon Cowell and Paul Abdul, overshadowing the actual contestants. The 12th season, airing in 2013, spotlighted a rivalry between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, completely losing sight of all musicianship. American Idol began to attract “bad” publicity intent on destroying the reputations of current stars, instead of creating names for new ones. What seemed like a simple format, viewers voting for their favorite singer, turned into reality television drama. The shows worst aspects were magnified and completely lost sight of its brand messaging. American Idol was never able to recover.
The Final Farewell
Even though American Idol has refocused on musicianship, it still suffers from the cost of high profile judges Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, and Keith Urban. Fox’s cancellation comes as no surprise. The early announcement will give the network time to get what it can out of the farewell season for its once extremely popular show.