NEW YORK – A sharp decline in viewers for the season finales of “The Voice” and “American Idol” this week raises the question of whether music competition shows are fading out.
The year's final “American Idol” on Fox Wednesday was seen by fewer people than any Idol-crowning moment since the series began in 2002. “The Voice” has bypassed “American Idol” in popularity, yet Tuesday's season-ending episode was down 25 percent from the 2013 finale, the Nielsen company said Thursday.
“Perhaps the viewing tastes have changed, have evolved,” said Brad Adgate, a TV analyst for Horizon Media. “There are ebbs and flows as to what is a popular programming genre or not and it seems like music competition shows have run their course. Particularly younger viewers are looking for what's next.”
Fox has already cancelled “The X-Factor” for next year. The ratings slide for “American Idol,” this year with judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr., has been well-documented but is particularly stark when looking at finales for the past few years.
Wednesday's show, where North Carolina rocker Caleb Johnson became the season 13 champion, was seen by 10.1 million viewers, Nielsen said. The season finale reached 14.3 million people last year, 21.5 million in 2012 and 29.3 million in 2011. That's down 66 percent in three years.
Fox has taken the show's downfall into account in scheduling, saying it will air fewer hours next season and in many weeks only one episode instead of two.
“The Voice” decline is in some ways more alarming, because it has been a linchpin in NBC's comeback since starting in 2011. Tuesday's finale, where Usher team member Josh Kaufman won the top prize, reached 11.7 million viewers. That's down from the 14 million who saw the conclusion of the last competition in December, and the 15.6 million who watched last spring.