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TV Column
Posted at 04:28 PM ET, 05/24/2012

Phil Phillips’ ‘American Idol’ win watched by 22 mil — smallest finale audience on record

About 22 million people caught the crowning of the latest white guy with guitar to be crowned “American Idol” winner Wednesday night — about 7 million fewer viewers than last May. The plunge was similar among 18-49 year olds who are the currency of Fox’s ad sales.

 This is the singing competition finale’s smallest numbers to date on both counts, including even the very first edition when “Idol” aired in the summer, of 2002.

It is not, however, the biggest ratings tumble an “Idol” finale has ever taken.

The second edition finale, in May of 2003, had averaged more than 38 million viewers. One year later, the third edition finale logged 29 million viewers. 

 But, this year’s tumble is presumed to be particularly worrisome for Fox suits because it marks the fifth time in the past six finales the show has lost 18-49 year old viewers, and fourth loss of the past six seasons among overall audience.

 Fox suits have said they plan to make changes to the show next season. With any luck, those changes will include ixnaying the use of instruments by the Idolettes. The producers decided to let Idolettes perform with instruments starting with the 2008 edition.

The result?

David Cook won.

Then Kris Allen won

Then Lee DeWyze won.

White guys with guitars have had a lock on the show ever since some rocket scientist ruled they would add instruments, which has done so much to make the “competition” a formality and the winner a foregone conclusion — we’re among many who put their money on Phil2 to win this thing as soon as he was named to the season’s Top 24.

 “Idol” exec producer Nigel Lythgoe told some “Idol” blogger/fan before the start of last season that the use of guitars would be limited, with no Idolette allowed to play a guitar every week, adding that there is a difference between playing a guitar and hiding behind it.

 That did not help. But don’t hold your breath on the  producers wise-ing up that cute white guys with guitars are text-voting catnip for the middle-aged and tweener chicks still participating in this show.

If you’re going to let Phil2 pull out his guitar two out of every three weeks, then for goodness sake let Jessica Sanchez sing all her love ballads to an adorable puppy in her arms.


Related reading:

This weeks ‘American Idol’ finale show: Phillip Phillips crowned latest white guy with guitar to win ‘American Idol’

This week’s final performance show: Phillip Phillips steals the show on final performance night

Last week’s results show: Joshua Ledet exits; Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez head to the finals

Last week’s performance show: The final three perform, and search for a “moment-moment-moment”

TV Column: Fox execs say ‘Idol’ will be “tweaked” next year; reports surface that J-Lo is quitting

More from the TV Column:

‘Dancing With the Stars’ finale: Donald Driver wins, around 17.8 million tune in

NBC’s ‘Smash’ culls cast for second season reboot

Bristol Palin reality show set for June 19 on Lifetime

By  |  04:28 PM ET, 05/24/2012

Tags:  american idol, ryan seacrest, nigel lythgoe, phil phillips, phillip phillips, jessica sanchez

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