SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of last night’s American Idol series finale.
UPDATE, 8:15 AM: Mariah Carey never made an appearance on the American Idol (3.0/10) series finale last night, but a lot of past judges, contestants and it turns out long-absent fans did. With big double-digit rises in the adults 18-49 demo and overall audience, the two-hour Season 15 ender drew 12.94 million, the best result for an Idol finale in three years.
Compared to the all-time finale low of Season 14, last night’s Idol was up 76% in the key demo and 61% in total viewers. Matching the Season 15 premiere of January 6 among 18-49s, last night’s fast-affiliate results are the highest results an Idol finale has seen since the Season 12 ender of May 16, 2013. That Candice Glover-winning show had a 3.6/11 rating and 14.31 million viewers. Thursday to Thursday, the Idol series finale was up 43% in the key demo over last week. In total audience, last night’s finale was a Season 15 high, beating the 10.96 million of the cycle’s premiere by 18%.
To put the end of Idol in some perspective of where the ratings juggernaut show once stood: The all-time Idol finale rating was the 16.8 snagged in the Ruben Studdard-winning Season 2; ;last night’s series finale was down 82% from that May 21, 2003 show.
Fox obviously finished first among the Big 4 last night in the demo and total audience. ABC and CBS were tied for second with a 1.6 rating, while CBS was solidly in the second spot viewershipwise with 7.32 million.
CBS’ second place viewership standing certainly came in no small part from The Big Bang Theory (3.0/) and its audience of 13.24 million. The most-watched show of the night, BBT was down 14% in the demo from last week but still tied Idol for Tuesday’s top-rated show. The not so good news for CBS was the 8:30 PM Season 2 debut of The Odd Couple (1.6/5), which fell a hard 48% from its Season 1 debut of February 19 last year. After that, both Mom (1.5/5) and 2 Broke Girls (1.4/5) dipped in the demo from their last originals and newbie Rush Hour (0.9/3) went into reverse 18% in its second week.
NBC didn’t really put up much of a fight against the Idol finale with The Blacklist (1.2/4) the net’s only original of the night. The James Spader-led series was steady in the demo with its last new show of six weeks ago, with just an 8% dip. In fact, Blacklist saw a small viewership uptick of 5% to 6.24 million over its last original. The CW’s DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow (0.7/3) was even with last week while The 100 (0.5/2) is currently matching its fast affiliate result of March 31 – that was adjusted down a tenth in the final numbers.
Shonda Rhimes and ABC’s TGIT pretty much escaped unscathed from the Idol ender. Grey’s Anatomy (2.1/8) slipped a tenth and Scandal (1.7/6) was even with last week. With Idol over just after 10 PM, newbie The Catch (1.1/4) actually saw a little upward movement to the tune of 10% in its third week.
PREVIOUS, 6:31 AM: In the end Simon Cowell did show up, as did almost everyone else ever on American Idol for the series finale – plus President Barack Obama, via pre-taped video. With past winners galore, an old co-host, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, performances from judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban, and a victory for Trent Harmon over La’Porsha Renae, the 2-hour Idol ended its fifteenth and final season with a 9.6/15 in metered market ratings.
That’s a surge of 55% from the 6.2/10 metered market result that the Season 14 Idol finale drew on May 13, 2015 – then new finale low for the show. Airing on a Wednesday, that 8 – 10:06 PM Idol ended up with a 1.7/6 rating among adults 18-49 and 8.03 million viewers. Both of those categories were all time finale lows for the singing competition show.
The best any Idol has done in any of its season finales and any episode overall was the Ruben Studdard winning Season 2 ender of over a decade ago. With Studdard facing off against Clay Aiken, that May 21, 2003 show emerged with a massive 16.8 rating among the 18-49s and a huge audience of 38.06 million viewers.
Looking back over the several most recent season finales, Idol had a 6.9/11 MM result in 2014, a 9.5/16 in 2013, which fell on a Thursday, and a 13.6/22 on May 23, 2012. Compared to the 6.4/10 that the March 31, 2016 Idol had in MM results, last night’s show was up 50%. Last Thursday’s 2-hour show scored a 2.1/7 rating among the key demo with a total viewership of 9.11 million – way behind The Big Bang Theory’s 14.24 million that night.
It almost goes without saying that Fox easily won the night in the early results and that we’ll update with more Idol ratings plus the rest of the night’s results later on this morning – but we will.