Is America Experiencing “American Idol” Fatigue?

noah | August 6, 2008 3:45 am

Yesterday’s report that only 300 people showed up to American Idol tryouts in San Juan was explained in part by the fact that Puerto Rico already has its own version of the show. But as it turns out, the San Juan experience may have been an outsized indicator of a greater trend. Eagle-eyed Idol observer MJ, of MJ’s Big Blog, crunched the numbers on this year’s audition turnouts so far and found out that the number of hopefuls in attendance was down across the board, with only one set of tryouts brushing the five-figure mark and the others attracting audiences in the 5,500-7,000-hopeful range. Compare that to last year, when the lowest-attended audition brought in only 9,000 people, and you’ll wonder just what is going on. Full set of numbers, which MJ gleaned from newspaper accounts, after the jump.

Season 8 Auditions

* San Francisco – July 17 – 7,000 * Louisville – July 21 – 10,000 * Phoenix – July 25 – 5,500 * Salt Lake City – July 29 – 6000 * San Juan – Aug. 2 – 300 * Still to come – Kansas City, Aug. 8; Jacksonville, Aug. 13; and East Rutherford (NJ), Aug. 19.

Season 7 Auditions

* San Diego – July 30 – 12,000 * Dallas – Aug. 6 – 13,000 * Omaha – Aug. 10 – 15,000 * Atlanta – Aug. 14 – 12,000 * Charleston – Aug. 18 – 10,000 * Miami – Aug. 22 – 9,000 * Philadelphia – Aug. 27 – 20,000

MJ attributes the decline to the lousy economy and rising gas prices, as well as the possibility of Idol fatigue. And while I suspect that the turnout for East Rutherford–home to the New York-adjacent Meadowlands, to which one can take public transportation–will raise the overall average at least a bit, these numbers have to be somewhat troubling to the Idol producers, especially after last year’s less-than-impressive ratings. Did former producer Nigel Lythgoe jump ship at the right time? Or are people just sick and tired of showing up and singing, even though they have zero chance of getting noticed unless they dress themselves up in tinfoil and belt out an “original” song?

2008 American Idol Audition Numbers Down [MJ’s Big Blog]