‘American Idol’ Season 13 Premieres to Worst Ratings Yet, Despite New Judges

Judging table changes can't seem to fix a former ratings powerhouse.

By Shannon Carlin

If the ratings of last night’s (Jan. 15) American Idol show us anything, it’s that after 13 seasons, America might not really care who their next Idol is.

The show,which brought in Harry Connick Jr and Jennifer Lopez to fill the seats left empty by Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Randy Jackson, earned its lowest ratings ever with only 15 million viewers, according to Entertainment Weekly. The show also earned a low number of viewers in the adults 18-49 demographic, earning 4.6 million, down 23 percent from last year.

Related: Former American Idol Contestants File Multi-Million-Dollar Lawsuit Against The Show Citing Racial Discrimination

The show did, however, manage to earn the highest ratings of the night, but the dismally low ratings for the premiere continue the overall downward trend that has been happening since 2006. Last year’s first all-female finale in nine years and first female winner in six years earned only 14, 312 million viewers, down a few million from the 21.9 million viewers who tuned in for 2012′s premiere.

Season 12’s sole bright spot was the Charlotte audition show (i.e. Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey’s blowout argument), which grabbed the top ratings spot overall that night (January 23) with 16.07 million viewers after loads of pre-promotion for the episode.

(Michael Becker / FOX)This year’s judging panel, plus host Ryan Seacrest. (Michael Becker/FOX)

After last year’s low ratings, the show made big changes in hopes to gain viewership, including re-signing J.Lo after a one-year absence and bringing in Connick Jr —who, for most critics, was the only highlight of the night— to join Keith Urban, the only judge to make it through season 12 unscathed. They also got rid of longtime producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, bringing aboard Per Blankens, Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager.


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