8:12am PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: 'American Idol' Finale Hits 2-Year High, Nearly 13 Million Viewers
More than a few viewers who'd strayed from the once unavoidable American Idol found their way back for the April 7 series finale. The Fox series hit a season high for its two-hour swan song, with a 3.0 rating among adults 18-49 and 12.94 million viewers.
Among total viewers, it was more than a two-year high for Idol and its most-watched finale since 2013. In the key demographic, the episode settled for tying its January season premiere.
The 15th and final season of American Idol — at least in this iteration — ended up being a more consistent ratings performer than the previous one. With a shorter run, it maintained solid numbers during live episodes — where it catered last cycle, likely one of the reasons why Fox ordered fewer episodes this go around. Compared to (almost) one year ago, when Idol's most recent season ran its course in mid-May, Thursday's episode is also a vast improvement. That finale only pulled a 1.7 rating among adults 18-49 and 8 million viewers.
There was never a chance of Idol's end pulling the kind of numbers it did in its heyday, but Fox did do its best to ensure some boost. The finale's parade of familiar faces from the franchise was almost endless, and was touted before the season even began in January, when the bookings were just anticipated. Even the penultimate episode, where the final three contestants faced off for a spot in the finale, was up from last year's ender.
Historically speaking, a high bar for a finale was set back in 2003 during the series' second season. Idol reached full-blown phenomenon status with 38 million viewers. But the show's sustained peak ratings didn't arrive until seasons five and six when the show averaged 30-plus million for every episode. Those years, and several others, also saw the Tuesday and Wednesday episodes trade off the No. 1 and No. 2 slots for the entire TV season. Multiple episodes fetched a rating among adults 18-49 that topped the 15.0 mark — a number so staggering by today's standards, it almost seems silly to mention.
Elsewhere, The Big Bang Theory matched American Idol in the key demo — though the comedy was down 15 percent (half of a ratings point) to a season low. The Odd Couple made a rather unceremonious reentry against the lifted competition. Its 1.6 rating among adults 18-49, however in line with the tail-end of its freshman run, was just a half of its series premiere a year ago. Mom (1.5 adults) and 2 Broke Girls (1.4 adults) were only off a shade, while Rush Hour dropped to just a 0.9 rating with adults 18-49 during its second episode.
ABC saw Grey's Anatomy (2.1 adults), Scandal (1.7 adults) and The Catch (1.1 adults) all hold steady. And, on NBC, The Blacklist brought a steady 1.2 rating with adults 18-49. Both Legends of Tomorrow (0.7 adults) and The 100 (0.5 adults) were even on the CW.