American Idol season 11 is as up in the air as the show was last summer. It's time for producers to decide if "American Idol" season 10 ratings and fan responses are good enough to keep the show intact with the new judges for the 2011 season. More importantly, it is time for Fox and show producers to let the fans know where the show will be heading in the immediate future. Nobody is looking forward to hearing another summer packed with rumors about what might be done with the format of the show or the judges' panel.
The 2011 season of "American Idol" is the first year that Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez have been part of the judging panel with Randy Jackson. They have been a lot better than expected in the roles, and viewers have not tuned out from the audition phase of the show. In fact, "American Idol" is back to being the top rated show on television, even taking into account that they moved away from Tuesday night's top rated drama on television ("NCIS"). That's pretty remarkable, and it shows that "American Idol" is as strong as ever as a product.
Taking a look at the ratings from the second week of episodes in 2011, "American Idol" is only down slightly in viewers from the premiere week. During the Wednesday, Jan. 26 episode, "American Idol" drew an estimated 23.8 million viewers and a 13.0 mark in the key demographic. That mark of 13.0 is really amazing, and something that Fox has to show off to their advertisers.
The Thursday numbers weren't quite as good in the 8 pm time slot, but Fox should have expected that when they decided it was a good idea to push their Tuesday-Wednesday show to Wednesday and Thursday this year. The numbers for Thursday were at 17.21 estimated rating, and a 5.8 mark in the 18-49 demographic. That was still five million more estimated viewers than any other show on Thursday night, but many shows were showing repeat episodes.
It is very clear that "American Idol" still has the viewers, even if this last Thursday saw a downturn of more than three million viewers. When the show finally gets to the competition phase of the show, or even the Hollywood week episodes, the audience numbers will probably go up again. Now it's time for Fox to become transparent about their thoughts on the future of Tyler and Lopez, and if the idea is to bring them back for "American Idol" season 11. If not, we are going to be in for a long summer of "AI" rumors, which actually might be what producers want in order to keep the show on people's minds.