At first glance, the numbers look bad: "American Idol's" season premiere was down nearly 5 million viewers from last year's, the biggest season-to-season drop in franchise history.
At second glance, the numbers don't look bad at all: "AI" was Wednesday's dominant show, averaging 21.6 million, per estimates, and scoring a still-huge, if diminished, 7.4 demo rating among 18-to-49-year-olds.
So, which is it? Is "Idol" over — or not?
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Let's examine both sides of the argument, starting with ...'Idol's' back with same winning formula
1. "America's Got Talent," "The Voice" and "The X Factor" Have Sapped Its Power: Or tapped out its audience. How many vocal runs can an ear stand? How many talent competitions can a viewer sit down for? "Idol's" success hasn't began imitation, it's begat a lot of imitation, and fatigue is setting in.
2. Nothing Lasts Forever: It happened to "The Cosby Show." It happened to "CSI." It would've happened to "Seinfeld," too, if "Seinfeld" had tried to push its luck into a second decade. No long-running show is No. 1 forever. Numbers-wise, "Idol" has been doing the slow fade since, no lie, Sanjaya Malakar was voted off midway through season six, back in 2007.Report: Lythgoe vows to pay Seacrest's salary
IT'S NOT OVER
1. It's Not Where You Start, It's Where You Finish: Last year, "Idol" posted its smallest-ever debut (not including season one), and suffered, at the time, its biggest-ever season-to-season drop. But by the time Scotty McCreery was being doused with confetti, the franchise was enjoying its biggest finale in years.
2. It's Not Bragging When It's True: As "Idol's" powers-that-be told TV critics this month, its show is the one show that regularly produces stars who regularly sell music. That's the real X factor, and "AI" has it.Early 'Idol' favorite has lengthy arrest record
3. It's Not Over 'Til It's Over: Until another show actually beats "American Idol," it's still No. 1. And make no mistake: "Idol" was No. 1 last night. Unless tonight's episode tops it, it'll probably be the week's No. 1 (non-football) show. The bottom line: It's not over; it's No. 1.
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