‘American Idol,’ down but hardly out
It's no longer unbeatable. And yet it's still a top show
March 6, 2013
Tonight at 8 p.m. the male semifinalists perform live in Las Vegas on Fox’s “American Idol.”
Whether it provides a ratings kick for the show, which is averaging a 5.2 Nielsen rating among adults 18-49 this season, is uncertain.
There were a flurry of headlines last Thursday morning when ABC’s “Modern Family” finished ahead of “Idol” in the overnight ratings for the first time ever.
It turned out, when final ratings were released later in the day, that the two shows had tied with a 3.9 apiece, but it seems inevitable that sometime in the next few weeks, “Family” will finally pull ahead of its rival, which has hit 10-year lows recently.
Does such a ratings win really mean anything beyond spurring another round of breathless headlines?
Well, no. The importance is more symbolic than anything.
For many years, “Idol” was unbeatable, unchallenged by anything else on broadcast and by far the highest-rated show on any night.
But last season the cracks began to show, and “Idol” slipped behind “The Big Bang Theory” on a handful of Thursdays. It still finished as the No. 1 entertainment show on broadcast for the season.
This year there are more cracks. “Bang” is outrating “Idol” for the season, and the show is no longer capable of lifting its lead-outs like it once was.
This isn’t the year that “Idol” became just another show; it’s still one of the top two on TV at midseason. But next year that probably won’t be true, and another judges’ table shakeup probably won’t change that.
“Idol” is on the way down. Yet it makes it that much easier to appreciate how dominant it was during the up years.
A look at this week’s top TV draws
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6
|8 p.m.||Fox||“American Idol” (R)||Ten more semifinalists perform live in Vegas.|
|9 p.m.||Showtime||“60 Minutes Sports” (S)||Among the stories is an Anderson Cooper interview with surfer Garrett McNamara.|
|9 p.m.||Travel Channel||“Feed the Beast” (R)||Series premiere. Looking at the best late-night options for food in various cities. First up–San Francisco.|
|9 p.m.||Bravo||“The Rachel Zoe Project” (R)||Season premiere. Rachel unveils her latest line at Fashion Week in New York.|
|10 p.m.||Comedy Central||“Workaholics” (C)||The crew is up late so they decide to take a road trip to find breakfast burritos.|
|10 p.m.||TNT||“Southland” (D)||A murder victim’s body is found cooked, while Ben and Sammy search for bank robbers.|
THURSDAY, MARCH 7
|8 p.m.||Fox||“American Idol” (R)||This season’s finalists are selected.|
|8 p.m.||CBS||“The Big Bang Theory” (C)||Leonard, Sheldon and Howard chat with a group of middle school girls about careers in science.|
|9 p.m.||Animal Planet||“Battleground: Rhino Wars” (A)||First of a three-episode miniseries about rhino poachers in South Africa.|
|9 p.m.||A&E||“The First 48″ (R)||Police search for the person who shot and killed a girl at her 14th birthday party.|
|9:30 p.m.||Fox||“Glee” (D)||In a later-than-usual special the club is told to perform a song from a movie.|
|10 p.m.||TBS||“King of the Nerds” (R)||Season finale. Final episode of the season features a maze and trivia before the winner is selected.|
FRIDAY, MARCH 8
|8 p.m.||NBC||“Fashion Star” (R)||Season premiere. Louise Roe takes over as host of the reality fashion competition.|
|9 p.m.||CW||“Cult” (D)||The new drama moves to its new Friday timeslot.|
|9 p.m.||Fox||“Touch” (D)||Three years of looking for Amelia begins to take its toll on Lucy.|
|9 p.m.||NBC||“Grimm” (D)||In the spring premiere Renard has a new ally after finding Nick’s trailer.|
|10 p.m.||CBS||“Blue Bloods” (D)||A Bonnie-and-Clyde-style couple causes havoc for Danny.|
|10:30 p.m.||ESPN||“NBA Basketball” (S)||Interesting matchup between a pair of young and fun-to-watch teams, the Rockets and the Warriors.|
SATURDAY, MARCH 9
|12 p.m.||ESPN||“College Basketball” (S)||The final regular season matchup between rivals Syracuse and Georgetown before the Orange move to the ACC.|
|8 p.m.||Fox||“Cops” (S)||Cops find an old man who collapsed after crashing his car.|
|8 p.m.||Lifetime||“Restless Virgins” (M)||New original based on a true story about a sex scandal at a prep school.|
|9 p.m.||ESPN||“College Basketball” (S)||Rivals Duke and North Carolina face off in Chapel Hill.|
|9 p.m.||Syfy||“Flying Monkeys” (M)||A girl’s pet monkey turns evil. And judging by the title, it flies.|
|11:30 p.m.||NBC||“Saturday Night Live” (C)||Justin Timberlake hosts and serves as musical guest.|
SUNDAY, MARCH 10
|1 p.m.||ABC||“NBA Basketball” (S)||This weekend’s doubleheader showcases Celtics-Thunder, then Bulls-Lakers.|
|8 p.m.||Fox||“The Simpsons” (C)||Lisa thinks a substitute teacher is bullying her.|
|9 p.m.||Lifetime||“Army Wives” (D)||Season premiere. The folks of Fort Marshall mourn a loss.|
|9 p.m.||AMC||“The Walking Dead” (D)||A peace agreement between Rick and the Governor could be in the works.|
|10 p.m.||Oxygen||“Snapped: Killer Couples” (N)||Series premiere. Telling the stories of couples who commit crimes together.|
|10 p.m.||Lifetime||“The Client List” (D)||Season premiere. A judge becomes one of Riley’s new clients.|
|A = awards show or special, C = comedy, D = drama, DD = daytime drama, G = game show, K = kids, M = movie, N = news/documentary, R = reality, S = sports, T = talk/variety show.|
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This week’s broadcast ratings
This week’s cable ratings
This week’s top movies, songs and books
This week’s daypart ratings
This month’s new media traffic data
This week’s younger viewer ratings
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