The Nicki Minaj-Mariah Carey American Idol feud is proving to be more popular with gossip bloggers (like, uh, this one) than with any actual viewers. Despite what seemed like feverish anticipation built by hundreds of breathless articles about the new warring divas, ratings for Idol's twelfth season fell flat.
American Idol returned Wednesday night, and Fast National returns give the veteran singing competition's twelfth season premiere 17.81 million viewers and a 6.0 rating among adults 18-49—losses of 19 percent from last January's debut.
Among total viewers, the veteran Fox series took a bigger hit than it did between the last two seasons when it dropped 17 percent, but among adults 18-49, the dip wasn't as big as last season's (25 percent). The 2012 Idol opener brought 21.9 million viewers and a 7.4 rating.
Why? We can think of a few reasons:
1) They're completely worn out by this feud. The first video of Nicki and Mariah sniping at each other leaked months ago, and both Fox and the pair of divas (and also, sites like ours) have kept the story in the news despite there not being anything "new" about it. Why tune in to watch something you've seen on the blogs loads of times?
2) Idol's just naturally fading. No show stays on top forever. Plus, with the addition of the Voice and X Factor to our weekly schedules, Idol is no longer the only game in town.
3) The musical chairs on the judging panel. Idol became a juggernaut with the same three judges for its first eight seasons. Since then, no new judge has lasted more than two. The incessant shuffling of famous faces in and out of the panel doesn't seem as desperate as it does on X Factor, but it has damaged the brand slightly.
4) Blame it on the singers. Last year's competition was relatively drama-free, as it became obvious early on that the Mumfordian stylings of Phillip Phillips would propel him to an easy victory as the fifth straight White Guy With Guitar to win the competition. Is the stagnating formula turning fans off?
Any one of those is possible. Still, there is some positive news:
However disappointing, given the big push to revamp the show, the numbers still leave American Idol safely ahead of any showing the Voice brought in the fall. It also gave Fox an easy win for the night by all measures, besting the rest of the big four's demo showings combined. History also tells us that Idol will recoup at least a tenth of a point when time zone adjustments come in later [Thursday].
It's still the biggest game in town, folks.