'American Idol' Audience Rapidly Aging

Show's median viewer age for Tuesday night was 42.9.

Ever wonder why [url id="/news/topics/a/american_idol/"]"American Idol"[/url] results nights feature so many boomer-friendly acts like Frankie Avalon and Thelma Houston, mixed in with more contemporary acts like Lady Gaga and Flo Rida? According to the Los Angeles Times, it's because despite all those shrieks of lustful approval for Adam Lambert and Kris Allen from tweens in the audience, the show's median viewer age for Tuesday night's performance show is 42.9. For a little perspective, that's more than 11 years older than when the show premiered in the summer of 2002. The show's producers realize that "Idol" is, like most shows that last eight seasons or more, going grayer as it gets older, hence the booking of nostalgia acts like Houston, Natalie Cole and KC of KC and the Sunshine Band amid the younger acts.

While those Tuesday night shows are down 10 percent in viewership compared with the same period last year, averaging 26.5 million viewers, the past few weeks have predictably seen a bit of an uptick as the competition heats up. The Times points out that the aging of the "Idol" audience likely explains why the Wednesday night results shows — which are stretched out with spots from those boomer-approved singers and other filler — have been slightly outperforming (26.8 million) the Tuesday night shows, something that hasn't happened since the program's first season.

"The reason? It's likely that 'Idol's' increasingly middle-aged audience is tuning in Wednesdays to catch oldies acts like Houston, '60s idol Frankie Avalon and Smokey Robinson," the Times speculated. "It was the kids who were most attached to the competition itself, and they're beginning to lose interest."

The paper then proposed three possible outcomes for this situation: The show could revamp with new hosts and judges to allow it to become, in a sense, ageless; the producers could just call it quits after a record run at the top; or "Idol" could simply change spots and turn into a variety or nostalgia show for baby boomers.