Is that a fat lady singing? American Idol did manage to beat CBS' venerable reality competition show Survivor on Wednesday night, but not by much: The show scored a 2.6 rating in the 18-49 demo with 10.1 million total viewers—down quite a bit from last year's season finale. The day before, the show scored a mere 1.7 million demo viewers and 6.6 million total—little more than half of last season's first finale episode and an all-time total-viewer low. Not good.
Part of the problem with Idol is simply that it's aging up—if you were 37 when the show first came on, you're no longer in the demo—but there's also plain old lack of interest with which to contend. The season started with 15.2 million viewers and a 4.7 rating in the demo, and by Tuesday it was barely moving the needle. And there are new series to contend with—NBC's The Voice, which is only three seasons old and looks like the prettiest girl at the dance standing next to Idol, even with a disappointing 3.3 demo rating on Tuesday.
The show is coming back for season 14; Ryan Seacrest will still host, Harry Connick Jr. will return, and Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban are both expected to stick around, too. Not for nothing, but exactly one of these people is on the Billboard 100 this week (Urban, at #58). The show has tried to stack the deck with guests, some better than others (Jason Mraz? Really?), and John Legend, who sits at #1 on that chart, appeared during the show's finale, which may have helped it rally to the extent it did, but The Voice has made its mark by employing higher-profile regulars than its competitor. It may either be time to severely recast the Fox show, or to count it out.