American Idol Draws Largest African-American Audiences

Fox’s American Idol may draw television’s highest concentration of African-American viewers, but that’s largely a function of the series’ tremendous reach.
In its eighth season, Idol’s Wednesday night airing averaged 1.34 million African-American viewers 18-49, per Nielsen live-plus-seven-day ratings data, topping all comers in the demo. The Tuesday night installment of Simon Cowell’s brainchild took second place, drawing 1.31 million.
While those deliveries are impressive, African-American viewers accounted for less than 10 percent of Idol’s 18-49 deliveries. During a season in which Idol averaged 24.9 million total viewers, the eighth go-around of the competition series put up a 9.1 rating among adult viewers in the core TV demo.
TBS in 2009 finished behind only Idol, as the Tyler Perry series Meet the Browns averaged 1.11 million African-Americans 18-49, representing 36 percent of its total audience (3.05 million). Last season, the first Perry-TBS collaboration, House of Payne, held down the No. 3 spot behind the Tuesday/Wednesday Idols (1.62 million/1.5 million). Payne drew 1.33 million African-Americans 18-49; then as now, it was the only program on cable to finish in the top 10 among the demo.
In the first nine episodes of its premiere run, Fox’s animated Sunday night series, The Cleveland Show, averaged 1.06 million members of the demo. The latest project from Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad) bowed Sept. 27, 2009, as part of Fox’s “Animation Domination” lineup.
After The Cleveland Show, the deliveries begin to drop off rather sharply. The first four installments of ABC’s V drew 746,000 African-Americans 18-49, or 7 percent of its average delivery of 10.9 million total viewers. Fox’s 24 averaged 692,000 members of the demo, followed in short order by: CBS’ CSI: Miami (660,000); ABC’s Desperate Housewives (647,000); NBC’s Law & Order: SVU (611,000); CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles (605,000); Fox’ Family Guy (602,000) and the CW’s Girlfriends spin-off, The Game (596,000).
Among the special events that drew a significant share of the demo, NBC’s Feb. 1 presentation of Super Bowl XLIII topped the list, reaching 10.7 million viewers, roughly 11 percent of the broadcast’s record delivery (98.7 million total viewers). ABC’s coverage of the 2009 NBA Finals drew 4.72 million African-Americans 18-49, accounting for one-third of the five-game series’ overall delivery (14.3 million), while the network’s presentation of the 81st Academy Awards averaged 3.01 million on Feb. 22––8 percent of the telecast’s 36.9 million viewers.

See page 8 of PDF for more relevant data