The Apprentice (tv program)

'American Idol': The slow fade of an instant hit

'American Idol': The slow fade of an instant hit

Not long ago, "American Idol" was such a ratings juggernaut that a rival TV executive dubbed it a "monster" that should be killed. That wish has now been granted, with Fox executives announcing Monday that they will end the record-breaking singing contest after it finishes its 2016 season.

Fox executives had long vowed that "Idol" could run for years past its peak, like "Survivor" or "The Amazing Race." "Idol" was the top-ranked show for eight years, with audiences in its heyday regularly topping the 30-million-viewers mark.

But the show has been staggering for years. This season, the viewership has shrunk to barely...