Phillips, a husky-voiced troubadour, conquered Season 11 as expected on Wednesday night's two-hour finale, slipping past his last competitor, 16-year-old chanteuse Jessica Sanchez. But the Fox show itself slunk to the lowest "Idol" finale ratings ever, with 20.7 million tuning in, according to preliminary figures from Nielsen.
That's an alarming 29% drop compared with last season and in line with "Idol's" overall decline this year, as audiences have seemed to tire of a glut of singing shows that includes NBC's "The Voice" and Fox's own "The X Factor." Fox predicts viewership will rise to 21.5 million once final figures arrive Thursday afternoon, but that would still make it the least-watched "Idol" finale ever, including Season 1 back in September 2002 (23 million).
"Idol's" most-watched finale was in May 2003, with 38.1 million viewers.
In the key category of adults ages 18 to 49, this season's finale ebbed to a 6.1 rating/18 share, down more than one-third compared with last season's closer, indicating that "Idol" is losing appeal among young adults even more quickly than it is among the general population.
Male vocalists have now won "American Idol" for five consecutive seasons. The last female singer to win was Jordin Sparks in Season 6. After being named the winner, Phillips began singing his victory song but was overcome with emotion and stopped singing to hug his family.
What did you think of the "Idol" finale and Phillips' victory?
— Scott Collins (twitter.com/scottcollinsLAT)
Photo: "American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips performs his victory song at show's end Wednesday. Credit: Michael Becker / Fox.