Nigel Lythgoe: 'The Voice' is 'Feeding' off 'American Idol'
The exec producer also takes on "The X Factor," saying Simon Cowell's Fox show could contribute to viewer fatigue.
Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer on American Idol, blames the show's ratings downturn in part to competition from NBC's The Voice and fellow Fox series The X Factor.
"With The X Factor sitting there, it feels like two Idol seasons on Fox," Lythgoe said Tuesday in a telephone press conference.
The Simon Cowell-fronted contest, along with The Voice, might be "feeding" from the Idol talent pool, thereby diluting its audience, he said. Lythgoe also noted viewer fatigue of reality singing competitions could be in play.
In Lythgoe's opinion, The Voice -- a ratings smash for NBC -- has a "fun format" and he likes the relationship between co-judges Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. "They need stronger talent -- we'll see," he said.
Lythgoe addressed the dwindling ratings for the 11th season, which has failed to match the 20-plus million viewers garnered by previous installments. Yet it remains TV's top-ranked series.
"After 11 years, I'm thrilled with these ratings," he said, adding: "Isn't it fantastic that we're still America's No. 1 show?"
As for unsubstantiated reports that multi-hyphenate host Ryan Seacrest might leave Idol when his contract expires, Lythgoe said he hates the idea and hopes that Seacrest would "try to sort out a deal."
"There can always be an Idol without anybody," he said, referring to Cowell's season-nine departure. "I believe that Seacrest is probably the best host in the business."
Lythgoe confirmed Jimmy Iovine will indeed return to the show as a mentor, saying: "He's coming back to do exactly what he did last year."
Iovine, chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M, helped guide 2011's contestants including eventual winner and country star, Scotty McCreery, with a mix of constructive criticism and fatherly support. In an interview with THR last week, Iovine unofficially confirmed his casting on the Fox singing contest. "I think the people at Idol really want to use my segment to help push the show along. We are going to do some cool stuff this year," he said.
After a talent-heavy audition phase, Idol kicks off its Hollywood Rounds on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.
"It's extremely dramatic because of all the sorts of passings-out," said Lythgoe, referring to the collapse of hopeful Simone Black, who fainted onstage.
"I watched myself walking toward the body in slow-mo," the producer continued, describing a frantic scene wherein a camera man tried to catch Jones but fell down himself while Lythgoe called for paramedics.