One of the most dominate runs in television history will come to an end after this season. Fox has announced that American Idol will be cancelled after it airs its 15th season this coming January. Ryan Seacrest is the only original cast member left and has been with the show in every season. The current judges’ table of Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban will be along for Idol‘s last ride, according to the network.
American Idol was once the most dominate show on television and made superstars out of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert. Idol winners have combined for a total of 13 Grammys, led by Underwood’s seven. That being said, Idol hasn’t produced an award winner in nearly a decade.
Over the last several years the show has run through a gambit of different judging personalities, some being successful, others not. The current panel has been mildly successful but Idol is no where near the juggernaut that it used to be. After the emergence of Clarkson and Underwood, the show hit its ratings peak in its fifth season in 2006 with a weekly average of 31.1 million viewers. Even after show creator Simon Cowell left the ratings keep pretty steady. It was the departure of Paula Abdul that really shook the chemistry of American Idol up.
There are several reasons the show declined after 2010. Besides the departure of of Cowell and Abdul, the emergence of other music competition shows like The X Factor and NBC’s successful The Voice also oversaturated the market, leading to a downturn in Idol viewership. X Factor has since been cancelled, but The Voice is wildly popular and is now the biggest music competition show on the air.
Idol‘s required two-nights-a-week, three-hour hold on the schedule also handcuffed Fox from adding shows that could grow viewership instead of waiting for Idol to eventually bottom out. This past year, Fox found reliable audiences with scripted programs like Empire and Gotham, which further loosened their dependence on stalwart Idol. Despite its decline in recent years, Idol will be remembered for spawning dozens of copycats in the reality TV field as well as the talented singers it helped discover.
American Idol will be missed and go down as one of the biggest televisions phenomenons ever, but the time had finally come to give it the ax.