Who will still be watching American Idol?

At the end of May I watched 2010’s American Idol 2 hour finale. I hadn’t watched one episode from the whole season prior, not even the auditions (clearly the funniest and most entertaining part of any reality TV talent quest) – but the lure of “Nasty” performance from Janet Jackson, The BeeGees and Alanis Morissette was enough to make me tune in. The show also served as a farewell to Simon Cowell, who announced earlier in the year he’d be on the judging panel for the last time. Of course, the bells and whistles were pull enough for me to watch the finale, which was the lowest rating Idol finale since it’s debuting year, yet the actual talent didn’t grasp me at all – I’m still not sure who won, even though I watched the kid win.

In fact, it has been a while since I’ve even cared about the acts spawned from the show. This had me wondering, in the face of the programme’s massive make-over, is the discovery of upcoming talent (supposedly the show’s main context) going to be enough to capture the 20 million + American audience (and the millions who watch internationally)?

Simon Fuller‘s American Idol brought forth talent including Fantasia Barrino, Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks and Kelly Clarkson on an international platform. Of course, the show also turned UK industry figure Simon Cowell into a global superstar (though he’d been familiar to British TV screens from a while before via X-Factor’s predecessor Pop Idol).

The next season of Idol is set to look very different from it’s previous ones. Not only missing Cowell, well-received panelist Ellen DeGeneres announced her departure and there is increasingly ambiguity surrounding judges Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi‘s positions on the next panel.

Large changes will also happen behind the scenes, with Idol artists due to be represented by Universal Music Group rather than Sony Music.

American Idol is just making changes all over the place. Reuters is reporting that Simon Fuller’s 19 Management has replaced Sony Music with Universal Music Group as the label for American Idol artists. Starting this season, Universal will market, promote and distribute the albums from the Idol finalists and winner. “With Idol celebrating our 10th season, I wanted to inject some new power and weight behind our brand,” Fuller said in a statement.

Via Vulture

But let’s face it, what’s Idol without Simon Cowell telling some deluded warbler, “that is the WORST rendition of Whitney Houston I’ve EVER heard in my life”? Popstar talent searches have been done-to-death for a few years now. With people more interested in watching someone swallowing fire or belching the alphabet on Britain’s/America’s Got Talent, I’m not sure how long American Idol has left as a prime-time programme. Will you be watching the next season?

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