Fox chief: ‘American Idol’s’ problem is talent pool, not judges

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Fox’s one-time ratings juggernaut “American Idol” has watched its ratings plummet in recent years, with a mere 6.6 million viewers tuning in for the first part of last season’s finale that saw Caleb Johnson crowned the winner.

Mind you, 6.6 million is still a good number for the vast majority of TV shows —but not for “Idol,” which used to average 30 million viewers in its heyday. The first half of the finale marked the lowest-rated episode in the long life of the singing competition that will begin its 14th season next spring.

Fox Networks Group chair Peter Rice told TV critics Sunday that the show “is aging gracefully,” but he acknowledged that the series needs a shot in the arm when it comes to contestants.

“We haven’t found in the last two years a group of kids who’ve captured the imagination of the public,” Rice said. (The last real star the show produced was in 2012 with Phillip Phillips, yet the show’s general trend of eroding ratings pre-dates Phillips.)

Rice said the show decided not to tinker with the judges’ panel —made up of Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. —because fan feedback on the trio was positive.

As was previously reported, when the show returns next spring it will likely be pared back from the usual 50-plus hours to a leaner 37.

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