Simon's last hurrah can't stop the viewership slide
Maybe it isn't really all about Simon.
Overnight ratings for the "American Idol" finale dropped 15 percent over last season's, despite that the show had been heavily promoted as the last hurrah for the cranky, hard-to-please and ultimately beloved Simon Cowell.
The show scored an 8.2 18-49 rating, up 24 percent from Tuesday's final performance finale, but down down 30 percent from the show's season opener on Jan. 12.
An estimated 24.2 million viewers saw Lee DeWyze triumph over Crystal Bowersox, compared to the 28.8 million viewers Idol draw last year in its final show announcing the winner.
While Idol dominated the ratings last night, according to Nielsen time-zone adjusted fast nationals, it didn't face much competition. Against "Idol," CBS ran a repeat of "Undercover Boss," and the season finale of "Criminal Minds," while ABC ran a theatrical movie, "Transformers," and NBC carried two one-hour episodes of "Minute to Win It."
"Undercover Boss" drew 6.5 million viewers and a 1.5 18-49 rating to finish second in the 8-9 p.m. time period, ahead of a repeat of the NBC game show "Minute to Win It" (0.9) and the first hour of the ABC theatrical "Transformers" (1.3).
At 9 p.m., "Criminal Minds" produced a 3.1 18-49 rating and drew a credible 12.7 million viewers to finish second in the time period behind Idol and ahead of "Minute" (0.8) and "Transformers" (1.9).
At 10 p.m., the season finale of CBS' "CSI:NY" drew an 18-49 rating of 2.7 and 11.8 million viewers for another second place finish behind "Idol," ahead of a repeat of NBC drama "Law & Order: SVU" (1.1 18-49) and "Transformers" (2.0).
"Idol" wasn't the only show finale that was down this year. Like most of broadcast prime time television these days, both "Criminal Minds" and "CSI:NY" last night were down over last season's finales. "Criminal Minds" was off 11 percent in the 18-49 demo, while "CSI:NY" was down 16 percent.
Meanwhile the whole season of "Idol" was down about 10 percent among adult 18-49, but still producing the highest ratings numbers in the demo in regular series broadcast television this year — and primarily the reason why Fox won that demo for the sixth season in a row.