'American Idol' finale draws lowest audience with 10.1 mln viewers

LOS ANGELES Thu May 22, 2014 1:04pm EDT

LOS ANGELES May 22 (Reuters) - The finale of Fox's singing competition show "American Idol" drew the lowest viewership in its 13-year history, with only 10.1 million viewers, down 29 percent from last year's record low, according to early ratings figures from the network.

"Idol," which crowned North Carolina singer Caleb Johnson the winner in a two-hour finale on Wednesday night, was once an industry powerhouse for Fox and watched by more than 30 million viewers at its peak.

But it has steadily declined in ratings in recent years, averaging around 8 million viewers per episode over the current season despite featuring celebrity judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr.

The "Idol" finale also saw a significant slump in its 18-49 demographic that advertisers covet, drawing 3.3 million this year.

Last year, the finale garnered a low of 14.2 million viewers, the first time the show's finale failed to draw 20 million people, despite bringing in high-priced celebrity judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Urban to boost sagging ratings.

In comparison to "Idol's" Wednesday finale, NBC's singing competition "The Voice" drew 11.6 million viewers during its Tuesday finale and continues to be a hit for the Comcast Corp-owned network.

"Idol" will be scaled back for its next season from approximately 50 hours to 37 hours, Fox Broadcasting entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly said earlier this month.

Last year, longtime "Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe was fired from the show last year due to low ratings, and replaced by Swedish producer Per Blankens.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)

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