Fox’s American Idol has long been referred to as a “ratings juggernaut,” the show from which all other shows must flee in terror, provided their networks didn’t simply opt to put up a test pattern instead of daring to compete. But in its eleventh season, it seems American Idol may be a marginally less massive hit than it used to be: Last night’s premiere saw a 17-percent drop in viewership from its 2011 debut, with just under 22 million people tuning in to see What Steven Tyler Will Say Next And Whether It Will Rhyme Or Resemble A Stolen Phyllis Diller Bit, as its promos had promised.
Of course, 22 million is still an awful lot of people, and make no mistake, American Idol is still the No. 1 broadcast show among viewers 18 to 49 by a very, very wide margin. But potentially even more troubling—and the factor that will inspire this year’s annual “Not as many people watch American Idol these days” stories (Like this one!)—is that the show saw its steepest decline in that desirable 18-49 demo, dropping 24 percent and losing nearly two whole ratings points from last year among those ages 12-34. Of course, you must also consider that by now approximately 45 percent of that demo must be comprised of rejected American Idol contestants.