'American Idol' sinks to Wednesday ratings low against Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, end in a few days, and at least one group of people probably won't be sorry to see the Games go: the producers of "American Idol."

Now in its 13th season, Fox's singing contest sank to some all-time ratings lows for a Wednesday show this week, according to Nielsen. That episode featured performances from the Top 10 boys.

"Idol's" 2.6 rating was its worst-ever Wednesday number in the key adults ages 18 to 49 demographic. And the 10 million total viewers who tuned in made it the least-watched "Idol" during the traditional September through May TV season ("Idol's" first season was during the summer of 2002).

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"Idol" has seen its ratings drift down for years, of course, and this season is struggling to reinvent itself after another shake-up at the judging table. But this week's record low is almost certainly due to Olympic competition. Through Wednesday, the Sochi Olympics are averaging 22.5 million total viewers for NBC's prime-time coverage. That's down 10% compared with the Vancouver Games in 2010. But it's still a huge audience that is diminishing the number of eyeballs available for other shows.

Fox pointed out that the Wednesday episode actually drew slightly more viewers than the Tuesday show featuring the Top 10 girls (9.7 million).

What do you think of "Idol" this season?

[For The Record, 6:30 p.m. PST Feb. 20: A headline on a previous version of this post stated that "American Idol" hit an all-time ratings low. It was a low in a key demographic for the show's Wednesday broadcasts.]


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