What Outlandishly Enormous Rating Will ‘American Idol’ Earn?

Photo: Courtesy of Fox

The departure in recent weeks of several former American Idol contestants — Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard, and Katherine McPhee — from their record label has some observers asking: Is American Idol on a downswing? The answer, of course, as Blake Lewis would give it: "He-uh-He-He-He-Hell n-n-n-n-wikiwikiwikiwiki NO n-n-n-n-NO."

With the writers' strike erasing most competitive programming from rival networks, the question is not, will American Idol be successful this season? The question is, how ridiculously successful will it be? Last season's episodes averaged 30 million viewers a night, or about 10 million more than Idol's nearest competitors, Dancing With the Stars and CSI. Now the L.A. Times reports that ad rates are dramatically up for this season, with some advertisers already paying $1 million for 30-second ads on the show. Overall, according to the Times, some observers believe that Idol could raise its ad revenue by 20 percent this year. A corresponding leap in viewers would have 36 million sets of eyes tuned in to Idol each episode this year, or, you know, three times as many people as watched the series finale of The Sopranos.

But we think it'll be higher. We think that with basically nothing else on, at least one episode of Idol — probably the finale — will exceed one reality-ratings milestone, the 51.7 million who watched Survivor's first-season finale in 1998. How insanely huge do you think Idol will be? Post your guesses in the comments!

Ad buyers hooked on 'Idol' too [LAT]
The Return of ‘Idol,’ Confident in Season 7 [NYT]