NEW YORK — For the past decade, the American Idol season finale has been one of television’s biggest events of the year. Now it’s not even TV’s biggest event of the week.
The Nielsen company estimated that 14.3 million people watched Candice Glover’s victory over Kree Harrison in last week’s final episode of the season. Both the CBS drama NCIS and comedy The Big Bang Theory had more viewers.
The viewership was a startling half of the 29.3 million people who watched in 2011, and also down from the 21.5 million who watched last year.
The judges feud between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey clearly turned viewers off. Original judge Randy Jackson has already announced he is leaving and more changes are expected soon.
Ten years ago, American Idol hit a high-water mark with 38.1 million people watching the show’s season finale.
ABC couldn’t quite topple CBS last week, but saw some encouraging numbers: The season finale of Scandal had the largest audience ever for that show.