'American Idol' Hits New Ratings Low

Wednesday night's top four performance episode is lowest-rated in show's history.

Almost weekly throw downs between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, the ability to vote 50 times at once, the promise of the first female winner in half a decade and alleged secret plots to bring back Jennifer Lopez
 haven't been able to pull "American Idol" out of its ratings tailspin.

At this point in the season, with the finale just two weeks away, interest in "Idol" is typically peaking, with viewership spiking and vote totals through the roof. But a strange thing happened on the way to the top three, "Idol" notched its worst ratings ... ever.

According to Deadline Hollywood, Wednesday night's top four do-over 
 featuring laconic, Boomer-bait mentor Harry Connick, Jr. was an all-time low for Wednesday night episodes. Numbers were off 15 percent from the previous week's episode, a figure that's even more damaging since Wednesday was the first "Idol" broadcast of the crucial May sweeps period, pointing out how far the series has tanked among the coveted 18-49 demographic.

The show's 11.08 million viewers — less than half of what the program was pulling a few years ago — were a new low for "Idol," but still helped the aging reality competition win the night, even against a greatest hits edition of its fiercest rival, "The Voice," which drew a 1.6 rating to "Idol"'s 2.8.

Even with the latest feud between Carey and Minaj, which included a career success dis and an offer of Q-Tips to Mariah and follow-up scathing Twitter slam
 from Nicki, "Idol" hit a new low a week after the previous week's dip, which was at that point the all-time regularly scheduled ratings nadir.

It was also the third time in a row that a new episode of sitcom "Modern Family" beat "Idol," which up until last year was a seemingly unbeatable ratings juggernaut, locking down the #1 spot from 2003-2011.

How bad have things been this season? In addition to ratings dipping by double digits again after last year's slide, on April 18 "Idol" was beaten by a repeat of "The Big Bang Theory."

"Idol" will have one more chance to get back on track next week before the all-important May 15 finale when the top three will return to their hometowns and perform three songs: judges' choice, Jimmy's choice and "Idol"' choice. Thursday's results show will also feature performances from Alicia Keys and season 10 runner-up Lauren Alaina.

Get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page where you'll find all the latest "Idol" news, interviews and opinions.