Though "American Idol" is ranked the second most-watched program of the 2011-2012 TV season, Nigel Lythgoe still has to defend the show's ratings decline. FOX's entertainment president Kevin Reilly recently told reporters that the show's season 11 ratings dipped "more than anticipated," and Lythgoe admits he's shocked to hear that.
Arguing that FOX's line-up, which has more than one singing competition, plays role in the ratings decline, the English TV producer tells TVLine, "We always stayed away from [airing] two seasons of 'American Idol [per calendar year], knowing that ratings would dip, and the public would get tired. It's just the very nature of offering the audience too much [of a particular thing]."
"Now, if you're going to do 'The X Factor (US)' on the same [network] as 'American Idol', that's like two 'American Idols' back-to-back. So, yes, I'm shocked that they thought that the ratings wouldn't dip," he further explains. "Plus, 'The Voice' is in the mix now, too. There's just a lot more on offer today, and kids don't always watch the television anymore. The world has changed in the 11 years that we've been doing this."
Responding to Reilly's criticism that "Idol" should've made more creative tweaks, Lythgoe says, "When Kevin says we've got to do new things next year, what are the changes? The format is a very simple format. Kids audition for us. Their talent is what brings people in to watch the show. Do we change the format? Maybe we should do it under water while basket weaving?"
The creator of "So You Think You Can Dance" adds, "It surprises me that there's some kind of challenge to the producers to make it more exciting. What do they think we do? Sit on our asses not worrying about the show?... I get very annoyed with people, especially executives that should know what they're talking about, making statements like that, to be frank with you."
On the fact that "white guy with guitar" won the show in the last few seasons, Lythgoe says, "There's nothing you can do about it." He goes on offering a possible solution, "When you say to America, you vote, the only thing that can be changed is the voting system. And I would hope that next year we would look at that."