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Seasons

[back to top] Season List

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Season Average Rating Cons. Perf. Fin. Duet+ Hi Lo σ 0-19 20-39 40-59 60-79 80-100
June-September 2002
48.6
 
30 91 56 0 95 7 17.9 13 16 30 23 9
February-May 2003
50.1
 
36 136 95 0 93 2 17.2 16 31 41 29 19
February-June 2004
49.4
 
32 136 96 0 94 6 17.1 15 36 34 30 21
February-May 2005
50.0
 
24 156 96 0 94 7 18.7 15 35 55 33 18
February-May 2006
49.9
 
24 156 96 0 92 5 18.0 18 33 49 39 17
February-May 2007
49.0
 
24 152 92 0 92 7 17.8 18 44 37 35 18
February-May 2008
50.1
 
24 156 96 0 95 3 19.1 18 34 47 38 19
February-May 2009
51.4
 
36 132 88 2 94 4 19.2 12 32 35 34 19
February-May 2010
49.4
 
24 147 87 2 90 2 18.9 16 32 47 37 15
March-May 2011
53.8
 
24 143 113 3 94 5 20.1 6 36 41 43 17
February-May 2012
54.5
 
25 159 128 11 93 7 19.4 7 32 52 51 17
February-May 2013
51.2
 
40 157 95 8 96 2 18.4 9 32 60 45 11
February-May 2014
52.0
 
20 165 140 13 93 4 18.5 12 37 47 48 21
February-May 2015
50.2
 
24 153 113 0 89 4 18.9 18 33 40 49 13
February-May 2016
50.5
 
24 102 68 4 92 5 17.3 8 29 23 31 11
Season Avg. Rtg. Cons. Fins SF FIN FCR Solo Grp SAge FFact RFact
June-September 2002
48.6 30 10 41.1 53.3 54.5 48.6 n/a 26.3 92% 0.11
February-May 2003
50.1 36 12 45.1 52.3 65.9 50.1 n/a 23.2 92% 0.10
February-June 2004
49.4 32 12 44.0 51.6 59.0 49.4 n/a 27.1 62% 0.43
February-May 2005
50.0 24 12 47.9 51.3 56.7 50.0 n/a 24.7 69% 0.51
February-May 2006
49.9 24 12 47.5 51.5 58.5 49.9 n/a 26.8 63% 0.53
February-May 2007
49.0 24 12 47.1 50.3 55.9 49.0 n/a 25.7 61% 0.55
February-May 2008
50.1 24 12 49.1 50.8 59.9 50.1 n/a 31.3 71% 0.51
February-May 2009
51.4 36 13 47.4 53.5 60.2 51.3 60.0 26.0 44% 0.98
February-May 2010
49.4 24 12 45.6 52.1 51.4 49.1 73.5 27.6 61% 0.75
March-May 2011
53.8 24 13 52.8 54.0 68.3 54.0 44.7 28.3 55% 0.95
February-May 2012
54.5 25 13 48.8 55.9 63.9 55.2 45.1 24.9 48% 1.30
February-May 2013
51.2 40 10 47.0 53.8 63.9 51.8 38.8 24.1 45% 1.24
February-May 2014
52.0 20 13 44.3 53.4 57.0 53.0 40.2 15.4 61% 0.68
February-May 2015
50.2 24 12 46.4 51.6 58.8 50.2 n/a 22.7 46% 1.18
February-May 2016
50.5 24 10 42.1 54.8 56.5 50.9 41.3 17.8 46% 1.45

[back to top] Demographics Breakdown

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Season Avg. Rtg. Girls FFins RtgF PreF FinF Guys MFins RtgM PreM FinM
June-September 2002
48.6 16 5 55.5 47.2 59.9 14 5 38.6 33.8 42.3
February-May 2003
50.1 21 6 47.6 42.8 50.5 15 6 52.4 48.3 53.7
February-June 2004
49.4 20 8 53.7 49.7 55.1 12 4 38.2 34.6 40.5
February-May 2005
50.0 12 6 49.6 46.2 52.0 12 6 50.4 49.7 50.8
February-May 2006
49.9 12 6 47.2 45.6 48.3 12 6 52.3 49.4 53.9
February-May 2007
49.0 12 6 54.7 51.2 56.8 12 6 42.7 42.9 42.5
February-May 2008
50.1 12 6 47.1 47.0 47.2 12 6 52.8 51.2 53.6
February-May 2009
51.4 18 5 47.2 44.5 49.7 18 8 53.5 50.2 54.6
February-May 2010
49.4 12 6 54.0 48.8 58.9 12 6 45.4 42.4 47.2
March-May 2011
53.8 12 7 57.0 55.5 57.5 12 6 51.4 50.1 51.7
February-May 2012
54.5 12 6 59.2 51.7 61.0 13 7 51.0 46.1 52.4
February-May 2013
51.2 20 5 57.2 50.2 60.3 20 5 40.1 43.9 32.9
February-May 2014
52.0 10 7 55.0 44.4 57.5 10 6 51.4 44.2 52.6
February-May 2015
50.2 12 6 51.2 46.3 53.5 12 6 49.6 46.5 50.5
February-May 2016
50.5 13 6 54.4 45.9 59.9 11 4 47.6 37.3 52.1
Season Avg. Rtg. Age AgeFI Teen FI19 Rtg19 20-23 FI23 Rtg23 24+ FI24 Rtg24
June-September 2002
48.6 20.7 21.0 10 3 35.4 18 7 52.9 2 0 15.0
February-May 2003
50.1 21.4 22.9 10 1 27.6 21 7 45.0 5 4 63.1
February-June 2004
49.4 22.1 20.9 7 6 48.4 17 2 47.6 8 4 53.8
February-May 2005
50.0 23.1 23.6 7 3 37.5 8 4 50.9 9 5 55.2
February-May 2006
49.9 22.8 23.3 10 4 42.3 3 2 50.1 11 6 54.1
February-May 2007
49.0 24.6 24.5 3 3 47.8 6 2 39.7 15 7 51.9
February-May 2008
50.1 22.5 23.2 8 1 48.9 5 5 47.1 11 6 52.8
February-May 2009
51.4 23.6 23.1 8 2 51.9 11 7 51.1 17 4 51.3
February-May 2010
49.4 22.2 22.8 6 3 48.4 9 3 46.8 9 6 51.0
March-May 2011
53.8 21.8 21.6 5 3 55.6 14 7 55.2 5 3 44.7
February-May 2012
54.5 22.3 20.9 9 7 58.2 7 3 48.6 9 3 55.5
February-May 2013
51.2 22.8 21.6 13 4 52.2 11 5 56.1 16 1 37.5
February-May 2014
52.0 20.6 21.1 8 4 52.4 8 7 55.5 4 2 31.2
February-May 2015
50.2 20.4 20.3 13 7 44.1 9 4 54.1 2 1 56.2
February-May 2016
50.5 21.1 19.9 9 5 36.0 10 4 58.9 5 1 61.4
Season Avg. Rtg. White FIW RtgW Black FIB RtgB Other FIO RtgO
June-September 2002
48.6 12 7 48.9 14 2 49.6 4 1 41.0
February-May 2003
50.1 15 6 46.6 14 5 55.7 7 1 36.4
February-June 2004
49.4 17 6 42.5 7 4 64.3 8 2 34.9
February-May 2005
50.0 13 8 49.8 7 4 50.8 4 0 47.7
February-May 2006
49.9 16 9 50.5 6 3 50.9 2 0 19.3
February-May 2007
49.0 12 5 43.3 8 6 59.4 4 1 23.5
February-May 2008
50.1 14 6 50.4 5 2 50.3 5 4 49.6
February-May 2009
51.4 23 8 52.1 5 2 39.2 8 3 55.0
February-May 2010
49.4 13 8 53.4 6 2 40.1 5 2 38.2
March-May 2011
53.8 14 8 58.5 5 3 41.5 5 2 36.7
February-May 2012
54.5 17 7 54.7 3 2 59.2 5 4 54.1
February-May 2013
51.2 17 4 53.4 11 4 57.4 12 2 36.1
February-May 2014
52.0 10 9 56.3 9 3 41.7 1 1 50.7
February-May 2015
50.2 14 6 50.8 8 6 51.0 2 0 19.0
February-May 2016
50.5 18 6 48.8 2 2 61.4 4 2 46.7
Season Avg. Rtg. Promo FIP RtgP Aud. FIA RtgA HW+ FIH RtgH
June-September 2002
48.6 2 2 59.7 13 5 41.5 15 3 49.5
February-May 2003
50.1 3 3 42.6 11 6 59.0 22 3 41.0
February-June 2004
49.4 9 5 47.8 11 5 49.9 12 2 50.0
February-May 2005
50.0 8 5 51.4 7 5 42.2 9 2 55.4
February-May 2006
49.9 5 3 52.1 9 6 50.7 10 3 46.5
February-May 2007
49.0 6 4 51.6 11 7 47.6 7 1 47.7
February-May 2008
50.1 8 7 52.7 10 3 51.0 6 2 40.0
February-May 2009
51.4 15 11 49.8 9 0 24.2 12 2 61.3
February-May 2010
49.4 8 6 45.4 9 3 55.9 7 3 46.1
March-May 2011
53.8 6 5 59.2 10 3 43.8 8 5 55.5
February-May 2012
54.5 10 7 53.7 3 1 53.1 12 5 56.9
February-May 2013
51.2 14 6 52.6 8 1 46.2 18 3 52.7
February-May 2014
52.0 9 7 46.0 9 5 59.1 2 1 41.5
February-May 2015
50.2 n/a 0 n/a n/a 0 n/a n/a 0 n/a
February-May 2016
50.5 n/a 0 n/a n/a 0 n/a n/a 0 n/a
Season Avg. Rtg. NE FIN RtgN South FIS RtgS MW FIM RtgM West FIW RtgW
June-September 2002
48.6 9 3 54.2 12 4 51.2 4 1 33.5 5 2 30.4
February-May 2003
50.1 4 1 33.5 17 7 57.5 6 2 39.7 9 2 32.7
February-June 2004
49.4 5 1 28.4 6 3 58.7 4 1 54.2 17 7 45.2
February-May 2005
50.0 6 3 48.1 10 5 54.6 5 3 48.5 3 1 31.7
February-May 2006
49.9 4 1 31.3 13 8 54.1 1 0 25.0 6 3 45.3
February-May 2007
49.0 4 0 28.0 7 6 52.8 3 2 53.5 10 4 46.8
February-May 2008
50.1 1 0 19.0 9 4 47.6 7 2 51.7 7 6 52.0
February-May 2009
51.4 3 0 46.7 12 7 53.6 8 2 46.3 13 4 52.4
February-May 2010
49.4 5 3 47.7 9 5 43.6 4 2 60.9 6 2 44.2
March-May 2011
53.8 4 2 57.0 10 4 52.4 4 3 56.3 6 4 53.5
February-May 2012
54.5 7 3 46.2 12 8 57.5 1 0 7.0 5 2 54.7
February-May 2013
51.2 6 1 50.3 21 7 53.9 5 2 46.3 8 0 42.3
February-May 2014
52.0 2 1 61.9 13 9 49.5 3 2 59.3 2 1 44.7
February-May 2015
50.2 6 3 52.4 10 6 55.5 4 1 28.7 4 2 29.7
February-May 2016
50.5 4 2 44.6 13 6 52.6 1 0 22.5 6 2 53.2

[back to top] Summary

When you look at the approval ratings for the first few Season One episodes, it's a minor miracle that the show survived long enough to become a cultural phenomenon. Idol fans and producers owe an enormous debut of gratitude to Kelly Clarkson and Tamyra Gray for keeping the ship afloat in those rough early seas, at least until the infant series found its footing in, of all places, big band music.

While Season One had the lowest average approval rating of any season thus far, Season Two, perhaps surprisingly, boasted the highest of the first seven. Certainly the epic duel between Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken played a big part, but give credit to the rest of the Top 12 as well: despite all the controversies and rumored backstage conflicts, the AI2 Crew was the first in which all twelve finalists posted at least one above-average rated performance (50 or higher).

Another curiosity: although Season Three rated below average and featured enough train wrecks to bankrupt the entire American insurance industry, it also produced the most five-star performances, 21. Seven different Idols contributed to that total, but the Big Three Divas combined for more than two-thirds. Of course, that trio would be Fantasia Barrino, LaToya London, and ... Diana DeGarmo?!? Believe it.

Season Four is best remembered for a record seven performances that reached the rarified 90 threshold, four alone by Bo Bice. That's one more than AI5 and AI6 had combined. That Bice didn't win despite outscoring Carrie Underwood by nearly 15 points would seem like an injustice on the surface, but subsequent events suggest that the voters, at least for that one season, knew precisely what they were doing.

What Season Five lacked in showstoppers, it made up for in star power: its celebrated Final 5 all finished with approval ratings above 55.0 and produced a pair of Top 40 hitmakers, a future TV star, and a winner who went on to be a Vegas headliner. Which one was highest? The answer is, amazingly, 'none of the above.' The top-rated AI5 contestant finished ninth.

Season Six was a struggle: a mean performance rating of just 49.2, and a most-ever 63 performances coming in at 1-star or 2-stars. But AI6 also comes with a twist: eight of its oft-maligned 12 finalists finished with above-average approval ratings, tied for the most of any season to that point. Look closely and you'll find a diverse, eclectic, and oftentimes rebellious crew who were unafraid to take risks, both in terms of song choice and presentation. Some of those risks ended in triumph and others, um, made little girls cry. Grown men too.

Though its Finale had been preordained for weeks, and the journey to the Nokia Theater was peppered with fits and starts (and occasional re-starts), Season Seven did succeed in one important aspect: it managed, just barely, to post an average approval rating above 50. No, it didn't live up to all that Most Talented Top 24 Ever™ hype, but it provided a lot of memorable performances plus a surprise winner who looks to be a keeper.

About the best thing we can say about Season Eight is that it ended on time, and that it underscored our position that approval ratings aren't everything. Though it was the first season to crack 51 on average, it also cracked a lot of Idol fans' loyalty and patience. From a patently rigged semifinals to a brazenly bogus Wild Card to judges who continually seemed to be listenting to completely different performances than America, AI8 was a mess from start to finish. But it did uncover several very fine singers plus perhaps the most unexpected victor: the unassuming, unhyped, and unusually imaginative Kris Allen.

As for Season Nine...well, it started on time. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there. Despite the best efforts of winner Lee DeWyze to keep the music fresh and interesting, and of runner-up Crystal Bowersox to keep it listenable, AI9 was a slog. Why? There were enough suspects and murder weapons to stock a game of Clue. But sadly, we'd have to go with Mr. & Ms. Voter, in the Top 16 Week, with the Telephone: three strong midcard candidates were axed in favor of three adorable young-'uns whose still-developing talents simply couldn't sustain the first half of the Finals. By the time a reasonably strong Final Four had been reached, most Idol fans had mentally tuned out...as had departing judge Simon Cowell, many weeks earlier.

Season Ten saw the departure of three judges, the addition of two new ones, the return of producer Nigel Lythgoe, the prediction of imminent doom for the franchise...and somehow, a very strong and entertaining season, against all odds. Though many fans grumbled that AI10 was short of "moments", it was also blessedly free of train wrecks: just 5 of 146 performances fell into 1-star territory. At 53.6, it was the highest-rated season to date, even though it also produced the lowest-rated winner to date. Of course, if he generates even one-third the record sales of the previous holder of that dubious title, no one will complain.

If you believed the judges, who irked viewers by giving standing ovations after seemingly every performance, Season Eleven boasted the best singing of any Idol season in history. However, if you believe our WNTS approval ratings...uh, gee, what do you know: it really did. AI11 clocked in at 54.5, with a record-shattering 68 performances at 4-stars or higher and no Finals episode scoring below 52. It even produced a blessed-be-real excellent coronation song, which nobody expected. We tip our caps to a deep Top 13 without any real weak links, and to a Final 7 who were uniformly superb, even if they began to slip a bit towards the end. But we still wished we could superglue the judges to their seats.

Season Twelve never happened. We're sure of it. True, there are rumors circulating through the Idolsphere about a guys' side of the draw that didn't turn in a five-star performance all season (and didn't break 50 even one time during the Finals!), five girls who were actually quite terrific even if their song choices often hovered between terrible and terrifying, themes that frequently pre-dated color television, the most dysfunctional judging panel in the history of reality TV, and Nielsen ratings that plummeted so precipitously that the entire production crew was summarily fired by Fox before the confetti finished falling. Lies. All lies. Except the part about the winner being really good, maybe.

The unsung heroes of Season Thirteen? The voters. Week after week, they pruned the thin field with deadly precision, almost always sending home one of the two lowest-rated singers every Thursday night. Good thing too, because just four of the 20 contestants managed to post an approval rating above the season average of 52. But, all four were above 60, and thanks to the near-perfect elimination pattern, the firm of Johnson, Irene (née Asciutto), Preston and Meuse, Ltd., combined to give 90 of the 165 performances, or 55 percent. That papered over a lot of flaws – poorly-paced and filler-laden shows, too much focus on the (mostly good) judges, a universally-panned "Rush Week" semifinal format, and much more. Lucky.

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