TV Ratings: ‘American Idol’ Stages a Strong Return on ABC

American Idol returned to TV on Sunday night, and the expectations could not have been more… muddled. The early hot take is that it held up pretty well, but it won’t likely be giving The Voice a run for its money any time soon.

In its first outing, the former Fox juggernaut delivered ABC an average 2.3 rating among adults 18-49 and 10.3 million viewers over two hours. It’s a solid restart for the franchise.

The new Idol did not premiere without a few variables working against it. Linear TV tune-in for the young year has seen some sharp declines, the 2018 Academy Awards being one very big example. ABC used the Oscars as its big promotional push for Idol, but the show pulled a record low 26.5 million viewers. There’s also the unknown Ryan Seacrest effect. The prodigal emcee, who Disney bosses went to great lengths to secure, continues to bat down allegations of sexual misconduct, even after an investigation at E! found no culpability. Seacrest’s Oscar red carpet ratings sank, with the show itself, but his morning gig with Kelly Ripa continues to thrive.

American Idol’s last season on Fox ultimately averaged that same 3.0 rating for Wednesday telecasts in live-plus-seven-day returns — impressive by both 2016 and 2018 standards. ABC is said to have guaranteed at least a 1.8 rating in the key demo to advertisers. It’s not a lofty goal, and one that should be easily attainable given Sunday’s inaugural performance.

ABC used Idol to launch midseason drama Deception, its latest swing at a broad procedural drama.

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:   ABC
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