American Idol

'American Idol' finale sees record-low TV audience

May 24, 2012 at 8:14 PM ET

John Shearer / AP /
Finalists Jessica Sanchez, left, and Phillip Phillips, center, listen as host Ryan Seacrest announces the winner onstage during the "American Idol" finale on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

The "American Idol" finale brought in the lowest TV audience of its 11-year history, with just 21.5 million Americans tuning in to watch Phillip Phillips clinch the title, according to ratings data on Thursday. 

The singing contest, once a TV industry juggernaut for Fox and which attracted more than 30 million viewers for its finale in its 2006 and 2007 heyday, was the most-watched program on U.S. television on Wednesday night. 

But audiences dropped by about 32 percent compared to last year's season finale, Nielsen data showed. 

Fox executives said earlier this month that the audience drop-off this season had been greater than they anticipated and said that several tweaks were in the works to freshen the format for 2013. 

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