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How did the outcry over Pia Toscano's ouster affect 'American Idol' ratings?

April 14, 2011 |  4:06 pm

Piatoscano Well, so much for the Pia Toscano backlash.

After the singer was eliminated from "American Idol" last week, many fans protested loudly and vowed absolutely, positively never to watch the show again. Their decision was final! If you doubted it, you could have checked out the, ahem, 925 comments Show Tracker got on a blog post about her elimination, most of them defending her, some even attacking "that schmuck Casey" for surviving another week.

So what was the effect on the Pia-less "Idol's" ratings Wednesday? Uh, well ... none. "Idol" averaged 23 million viewers, according to the Nielsen Co., which was on par with the previous week's performance show and up a big 12% compared with last year's show at this time.

Actually, the Pia example offers a useful illustration of an important truth. When a reality TV show does something that outrages, or seems to outrage, many people, that's not bad for ratings. No, that's good for ratings! Controversy equals good. Status quo equals less good.

So, while it might be cold comfort to young Pia, viewers don't seem ready to give up "Idol" on her wronged behalf. They might have been angry, but they aren't about to tear themselves away.

What do you say, Trackers?


Pia Toscano, post-"American Idol:" Dating Mark Ballas and a record deal?

Pia Toscano, still smiling after elimination

-- Scott Collins

Photo: Pia Toscano. Credit: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters