‘American Idol’ Ratings: Did They Take a Hit Following Caleb Kennedy’s Exit?

ABC/Eric McCandless

Some fans of ABC’s “American Idol” vowed to boycott the show after 16-year-old top-five contestant Caleb Kennedy dropped out before the top five live show. The ratings have come in for the episode following his exit.

Kennedy left the show following a video surfacing of him sitting next to someone in what appeared to be a KKK-like hood appeared. The video, according to Kennedy, was taken when he was 12 years old. He has since apologized and vowed to do better. Kennedy’s mother has since received backlash from fans of the show for her comments defending her son.

“First and foremost, as judges and as a judges’ panel, we love these kids, and we get emotionally involved,” Luke Bryan said of Kennedy’s exit, according to Yahoo! Entertainment. “We wish nothing but the best for Caleb, and it does make for a very, very challenging and upsetting week.”

Some fans vowed to boycott the show after the exit.

‘American Idol’ Ratings Were Down For the May 16 Episode

According to TV Series Finale, which keeps track of all the ratings for the season, “American Idol” pulled in 5.2 million viewers on the Sunday, May 16 episode. That is down nearly 9.5% from the previous week, at the time of writing. The ratings may improve slightly with streaming and DVR data added in.

The ratings for the show, if they stay about the same, mark a new low for the season’s Sunday episodes, though “American Idol” still won out the time slot for the night over CBS’s “The Equalizer,” CW’s “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” Fox’s “The Simpsons,” and NBC’s “Ellen’s Game of Games,” according to the ratings in context published by TVSeriesFinale.

To put the ratings in more context, the season finale of “American Idol” season 19 aired on Sunday, February 14, 2021, and the show pulled in nearly 7 million viewers. It’s likely the season finale will pull in about 6 million viewers based on trends so far this season.

‘American Idol’ Has Fewer Viewers Than ‘The Voice’

When it comes to ratings for singing competition shows, comparing NBC’s answer to “American Idol” with the original show provides further context.

NBC’s “The Voice” has held onto most of its viewership, with the low of the season airing on Monday, April 12, 2021. That show pulled in 5.8 million viewers, down 3 percent from the previous episode.

“The Voice” continues to pull in the large amount of viewers, according to TV Series Finale. The show pulls in around 6 million viewers an episode, which is nearly one million more than “American Idol” has averaged during the season.

In context, according to TVSeriesFinale, that puts “The Voice” at the top of Monday nights for overall viewership, but the show does fall below “9-1-1” in the coveted 18-49 demographic.

On Monday episodes, which finished up earlier in the season, “American Idol” fell below  “9-1-1,” “The Voice” and “The Neighborhood.” The second hour is also trailing “9-1-1: Lone Star,” according to TVSeriesFinale.

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“American Idol” airs on Sundays at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC.

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